Bhogtoram Mawroh has got a lot of positives to say about the way Rangdajied United are playing this season, but he’s got a few bits of advice for them if they want to beat better teams like Langsning and Shillong Lajong…

The Shillong Lajong vs Rangdajied United match was a tough one for both teams with Lajong deservedly coming out the victors at the end.

Except for the first few minutes of the first half, when Wanlamsuk Nongkhlaw released a shot from just outside the box, it was Lajong who controlled the game.

Rangdajied played with a 4-1-4-1 while Lajong went for a very fluid 4-1-3-2. The front two of Lajong were highly mobile and were either retreating and providing more options in the field or attacking from the sides. This tactic was important because the three midfielders played very narrow and the fullbacks were the only ones providing the width. The midfielders tried to make diagonal runs into the box but without Sheen Sohktung there was not much threat from the wide areas.

Allen Lyngdoh did very well in the opening stages and he looks ready to start games in the I-League (a visitor from Italy who was recently in the San Siro Stadium watching Inter Milan play against Tottenham Hotspur particularly liked his game).

Rangdajied, on the other hand, went for the width with their wide players hugging the touchline and attempting to stretch Lajong. Given that Lajong play very narrow this is a very good tactic. However, in other aspects of the game Rangdajied were second best to Lajong.

Lajong moved the ball very fluidly with good combination play on display. However, part of the reason why Lajong were able to do so was because Rangdajied allowed them to.

Unlike Langsning, who press as a team and close down passing options as well, Rangdajied players were pressing individually. The moment the marker moved towards them, Lajong players would either shift the ball to the other side or feed the ball to a team mate who now was free because the defending player has vacated that position. Time and again it happened and the tackles that led to the fouls (and yellow cards) were because of that.

Here Bansharai Sun’s experience becomes very valuable. He didn’t lunge into tackles but allowed Lajong midfielders to have the ball. By not pressing the space in front was closed and the only option for Lajong’s midfielders was backwards or sideways (away from danger).

Bansharai pressed when he knew that there was a chance of winning the ball. Otherwise he held his position and made sure the game was played in front of him and not behind. Even if he is substituted or rested Bansharai should guide the youngsters who have a lot of talent but need his patience and experience. This does not mean that Rangdajied should not press. But if they do they should press as a team where not only the player that has the ball is swamped but the passing options are also closed. Langsning do this very well. If they felt such a change is not suitable for the way they want to play then Rangdajied should allow teams like Lajong to come into their half and then press.

In their own half they have the numbers and, with Lajong playing narrow, either the attacker drifting wide or the wide players playing high can create problems for Lajong. This was seen in the last quarter of Lajong’s match against Malki where Primrose Lamat drifting wide was a big threat. The other thing which Malki did very well during the period was that they attacked in numbers. And the other time I saw this happened against Lajong was in the game against Langsning, which the latter won.

In my opinion if Rangdajied want to beat Lajong or Langsning they have to provide more support to Nongkhlaw upfront. Of the few Rangdajied games that I had previously watched Bansharai was played as the deep lying playmaker, which I thought was a waste of his ability. In the Santosh Trophy a couple of years ago he was played as a striker, which again was not his best position. Against Lajong he played as the attacking midfielder, which is, in my opinion, his best position. From here he can not only dictate the game but also join the attack.

Rangdajied play Nongkhlaw as the sole striker upfront and try with their width to provide crosses to him. I think it’s a good tactic, though the only problem is that he is always outnumbered against good defence. Also, he is not the tallest. Whenever I have watched Rangdajied play I always find Nongkhlaw isolated and needing support. When the ball is played into the box Bansharai or Raikutshisha Buam have to join the attack as well. Both are good headers of the ball and should provide more threat upfront.

Rangdajied’s tactic until now has been very conservative. Coach Khlain Syiemlieh needs to attack more from the very beginning and not in the latter part of the second half if he wants to win the SPL.

Compared to last year, I like the way Rangdajied play this year. The most important difference that I noticed from last year is that they play as a team now. Instead of just launching the ball to their tall foreign strikers they are now trying to use the midfield and the wide attackers to build an attack. What worries me, though, is that there have not been many creative moves from the middle. I don’t remember many through balls that created problems for the opposition.

Another problem is that they are still quite slow in passing the ball. They need to release the ball a little sooner. Ksankupar Khongmalai has got good feet and can deliver great crosses but he is taking too much time with the ball. Granted he can beat a couple of players on his own but when he is trying to do that the defence has already organised itself and the opportunity has disappeared. Both he and Atlanson Kharmaw are good young fullbacks and they will have a very big role to play in determining what Rangdajied can achieve this season.

For Lajong, watching Aiban Dohling limp off from the pitch was a big worry. He has been unlucky with injury since he joined Lajong. Last year he came in for the last few I-League games and looked really impressive. His tenacity and aggression is a good foil to Kenstar Kharshong’s class and calmness. Can they be the Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand of Lajong? I certainly hope so.

Kenstar, for me, was the best player for Lajong last year and this year I expect him to do very well again. This year, though, is for Aiban to show his worth to the team. For that, in my opinion, there are certain things he needs to do. He should release the ball faster and avoid unnecessary confrontations. In short he is taking too much time with the ball and putting his team under undue pressure. He can get away with it in this tournament but he will be caught out in the I-League. Aiban looks stronger but fragile at the same time. I certainly hope he can stay fit for the whole season and both he and Kenstar can form a formidable partnership for Lajong this I-League.

Langsning and Lajong look like the probable SPL final line-up. This is very exciting because the way both teams play they cancel each other out – Lajong are the best team to stop Langsning and Langsning are the best team to beat Lajong.

Rangdajied are almost there and I believe that they can be the surprise package. The only thing they need to do is to be brave and it is possible that they can win the SPL. All the best to all the teams!

(TSR photo)

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