THE I-LEAGUE SAGA SO FAR

 

The tryst with destiny was made when Shillong Lajong FC made its entry into India’s top flight football tournament,The 1st Division I-League in the 2009-2010 season.

 

To make the team battle ready for the elite league,Shillong Lajong FC rendered the services of Stanley Rozario(ex Salgoacar and East Bengal coach).Rozario ensured that the Club would be unfazed by the hype and frenzy of the I-league.

 

This league,often regarded as the Home of India’s Premier League,had it all.It was the crème’ de la crème’ of Indian Football.It was a Trial By Fire for the Club.For confronting the Biggies of Indian football,the Club did not have either the firepower nor the experience.Yet the team did not cave in meekly.Rather,it sent out a strong message that it was ready to fight to the finish.And fought it did..till the very end.

 

Yes,the club was relegated at the end of the season,but the Club had accomplished yet another first-they had been the first team from the North East to have qualified for the big league.They would also remember their first adventure in the I-League for upsetting the Bengal giants-Mohun Bagan and East Bengal,and other top flight clubs like Mahindra Utd and Churchill Brothers.

 

After being relegated into the 2nd Division for the 2010-2011 season, Shillong Lajong were determined to make their stay at the 2nd tier tournament as short and as fruitful as possible.And true to the words,the Club emerged victorious in the 2nd Divison League,making short work of the other teams.With this,the Club was granted a second chance in the 1st Division I-league,and for the supporters back home,it was re-affirmation of their belief and faith in the Club.It also meant the arrival of big league stars at their Holy Grail,battling it out against their own Demi-Gods,in the newly renovated packed Nehru Stadium.

 

There was another change of guard at the coaching aspect,at the onset of the 2011-2012 season,when Stanley Rozario made way for Pradyum Reddy, a Scotland-born Indian,who boasted of an extensive coaching career,and having worked at iconic clubs like Chelsea FC,Liverpool FC,and Celtic FC.

 

The 2011 -2012 season saw Shillong Lajong FC finished at a credible 10th position, considering the Club had limited resources for the campaign .This was followed by another significant development for the Club,when Pradhyum Reddy,the man who had taken the Club this far,made way for Desmond Bulpin,who was no stranger to Indian Clubs,having coached another I-League outfit,The Indian Arrows.

 

Bulpin made his intentions quite clear,in his first big assignment,when Shillong Lajong won the North-East Super Series,after defeating A-League giants Wellington Phoenix in the final,in what will probably remain the Club’s biggest achievement till date.

 

On the field, there was a flurry of players signings, some of them the biggest names of Indian football,and international stars too.The Shillong Lajong FC line-up now has a myriad of National and International stars,including the likes of John Menyongar(Liberia),Basant Singh,Govin Singh,Jibon Singh,Friday Gbeneme, Sushil Singh,Ebi Sukore and Rennedy Singh .Of the home grown players, Seikhohoa Tuboi, Wailadmi Passah and Eugeneson Lyngdoh have carved out quite a reputation for themselves.