Newly Promoted I-League side Rangdajied United have bolstered their side by addition of five Indian Internationals contracted by IMG Reliance and a new foreign player and now look a much improved unit.
Doubts were cast over Rangdajied’s abilities to play in the I-League when the 2013/14 season of I-League kicked off, primarily because of their lack of experience and a relatively quite transfer season where they failed to sign any big name. The doubters were proven right as the North-East side succumbed to five losses in first seven matches. The gulf between Rangdajied and the other sides was visible as most of the players lacked experience of playing in the top flight of Indian Football and were making school boy errors. Last three matches however, has seen Rangdajied notch up three impressive results – including a draw against Salgaocar and Lajong and their first away point against Mumbai FC.
The prime reason for Rangdajied’ s resistance has been the addition of five present and former IMG Reliance contracted Indian internationals to the side – Sandesh Jhingan, Manandeep Singh, Tomba Singh, Gouramangi Moirangthem and Subrata Paul. Gouramangi, Manandeep, Tomba and Subrata played their first match against Shillong Lajong and made their presence felt as Rangdajied evenly matched Lajong for most part of the game. Subrata and Gouramangi add much needed steel to the defense which was leaking goals in the previous rounds. Subrata in particular made a string of impressive saves against Lajong and earned praise from the Lajong coach as well. Gouramangi and Lamine Tamba now form a formidable central defensive pairing and with Jhingan expected to get fit soon, Rangdajied’ s defense could become even better.
Tomba Singh may not be 100% match fit but has made an immediate impact in the center of the park with his vision and experience. With skipper Eugeneson Lyngdoh, he could form a formidable paring and add experience to the midfield. Scoring goals was also turning out to be an issue for the team as they had scored just thrice in their first seven matches. Manandeep scored against Mumbai FC and the former India international would be looking to make amends for a forgetful last season. He has been re-united with Santosh Kashyap under whom he flourished at Air-India couple of seasons ago. The presence of these experienced I-League campaigners has added a lot of depth to the team and the talented youngsters like David KC Ngaite and Joy Mrong Kharraswai will no doubt benefit from their presence.
With Edmar Figueira not being in the best of forms, Rangdajied finally completed the signing of North Korean striker Kim Song-Yong from Thailand’s second division club Nakhon Ratchasima. Yong brings with the experience of playing for the U-23 and the senior DPR National teams. The 26 year old striker has played in J-League and he had a positive impact in his debut match against Mumbai FC as he combined well with Manandeep Singh upfront and caused problems for the Mumbai FC defense though he failed to score.
The match against Mumbai saw Rangdajied create a number of chances with Manandeep putting his side ahead from a cross by KC Ngaite. Ashutosh Mehta however equalized for the hosts at the hour mark after Hashmatullah Barakzai’s attempt was deflected into his path. Both teams had late chances to win the match but failed to capitalize and the match ended 1-1. Things have started to fall in place for the North-Eastern side and with recent additions they will be confident going into the future matches.
JSW backed Bengaluru FC stunned table toppers Salgaocar 2-1 at their home to notch up their first away win. The away side started on the better note with skipper Sunil Chhetri in the thick of events and were duly rewarded when John Menyongar scored in the 21st minute. Their lead however was short lived as Gilbert Oliveria equalized two minutes later. Bengaluru looked the better side again after the break and took the lead in the 57th minute through Beikhokhei Beingaichho. Searching for an equalizer, the home side went on the offensive but were guilty of missing chances including a penalty which Darryl Duffy missed in the injury time.
Desperate for a win, Dempo SC took on Pune FC, who were high on confidence after being allotted a slot in AFC Champions League playoff. The first half was a rather slow affair with both sides managing to create very few chances but the game took off after the break when Beto fired the home side into the lead courtesy a pass from Holicharan Narzary. Former Bolton striker Mustapha Riga equalized four minutes later with Pierre grabbing the assist. Papas introduced Jewel Raja, Alwyn George and Gabriel Fernandes around the hour mark and the trio combined well with Beto and Peter Carvalho to create a host of chances but were unable to take advantage of those. The pressure is rising on Dempo to perform and Billy Mehmet has become the first casualty of a poor start as the forward was released prior to the game.
The second Kolkata derby between Mohun Bagan and Mohammedan Sporting ended in a goal-less draw. Mohun Bagan were the better side in the match and had it not been for some poor finishing by their skipper Odafa Okolie, the Mariners could have won the match. Nabi played his game of the 2013/14 I-League season for Mohammedan Sporting and the Mr. Versatile of Indian Football was substituted at the hour mark . The Black Panthers had their moments in the second half of the match but failed to score.
United SC took on East Bengal in the second Kolkata derby of the round. The Lal-Hould brigade began the more attacking of the two sides and had a flurry of chances early on in the game. Chidi Edeh gave East Bengal a much deserved lead in the 32nd minute after Naoba Singh had set him up. United SC equalized at the hour mark when left back Dhanachandra Singh headed in a Souvik Chakrabarty corner. East Bengal continued to create chances but failed to capitalize with Baljit Singh Sahni guilty on a couple of chances. It ended 1-1 with East Bengal only themselves to blame for failing to secure three points.
Having signed three new foreign players – Naser Al Sebai (Syrian defender), Abdel Hamid Shabana (Egyptian midfielder) and Yasser Shahin (Syrian striker), defending champions Churchill Brothers squared off against Sporting Clube de Goa in a Goan derby. Churchill Brothers took the lead in the 2nd minute through Shabana though Bomia Karpeh equalized in the 5th minute. Churchill were looking the better side and were rewarded for their efforts in the 37th minute when Balwant Singh fired them into the lead. Sporting went all out for an equalizer in the second half and in the 89th minute midfielder Pratesh Shirodkar, who was having a good game, restored parity. Sporting were however denied a well deserved point when substitute Jaison Vales scored in the injury time to give the Red Machines their first win of the season. With the first win under their belt, the Red Machines would be looking to get their season back on track while Sporting will feel they deserved a point from this outing.