Shillong, Feb 28 (IANS): Rangdajied United FC will have it all to play for when they take on I-League toppers Bengaluru FC at the JN Stadium here Saturday.
Rangdajied have made far-reaching changes since their 0-2 loss at Dempo two weeks ago, dispensing the services of coach Santosh Kashyap in favour of Hering Shangpliang and bringing in prolific former United SC striker Ranti Martins.
Kashyap, who has led the team since before the start of the season, was shown the door as they have been locked into the relegation zone, never advancing beyond 12th place in the 13-team standings.
All the while, Kashyap has maintained that Rangdajied will not be relegated and said that they were playing good football without achieving winning results.
However, with the season drawing to a close, the management seems to have lost its faith in him, entrusting the unenviable task of resurrecting their season to Shangpliang, who is a widely respected coach from Meghalaya and has also had various appointments at the national level too.
He will have to pull off something remarkable as his new club only have eight games left this season with the match against Bengaluru the first of three in a row at home.
To save their season, Rangdajied have signed Ranti Martins from financially troubled United SC and the Nigerian will be expected to help the Shillong team turns things around.
For Bengaluru, their first season in the I-League has been a completely different one to that of their opponents. Leading the table is an incredible achievement for the Sunil Chhetri-captained team but their incredible run in the first half of the season has been tamed somewhat recently.
They did not have a very good Federation Cup campaign and drew 1-1 against Mumbai in the first match of the league restart.
“We don’t expect an easy game,” Bengaluru coach Ashley Westwood said, noting the appointment of Shangpliang and signing of Martins. Bengaluru were 3-0 winners over Rangdajied in the reverse fixture at the start of the season.
“We played against Rangdajied in the Federation Cup where we drew 1-1 and we’ve studied their game in depth. We’re all fit, no suspensions, so we’ll have a full squad for tomorrow.”
Rangdajied assistant coach Khlain Pyrkhat Syiemlieh said that they are going all out for a win.
"We are going all out for a win. With new tactics and Martins, who is gelling well with the others, the players are growing in confidence. Shangpliang is known to be a good motivator and it will be a positive change for the team.”