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Kashyap sent off by struggling Rangdajied

Hering Shangpliang likely to take over beleaguered side

SHILLONG: Struggling I-League team Rangdajied United FC have parted ways with coach Santosh Kashyap, it was announced by the club on Friday.
Kashyap had been in charge for less than a season, having joined after the Shillong outfit qualified for the I-League’s top tier last year.
Rumours and gossip abounded over the last few days that the RUFC coach was on the way out, with the news finally being confirmed by the club through its Facebook page and through a website that is known to be close to the team.
“Yes, we are parting ways with Santosh Kashyap and the decision has already been taken,” the website quoted a top Rangdajied official as saying.
Hering Shangpliang, a well-respected coach long associated with football in Meghalaya is likely to be named as Kashyap’s replacement.
“We are on the lookout for a suitable replacement. We are also talking with Malki SC coach, Hering Shangpliang,” the club official was also quoted as saying.
Another source, however, informed the website that Shangpliang was introduced to the players at a Thursday morning practice session in Shillong and is likely to take over soon.
Not only did Shangpliang, who is also the District Sports Officer for West and East Jaintia Hills, lead Malki SC to the final of the Shillong Premier League, but he was also in charge of the Meghalaya state team that finished the Dr T Ao Memorial Football Tournament in second place (the state’s best finish) last week.
The decision to remove Kashyap was finally taken on Thursday, apparently because of Rangdajied’s run of poor results, including two back-to-back losses earlier this month in Goa on the resumption of the League from its winter break.
The Blues are stuck at the bottom of the standings with 12 points from 16 games.
They have won just two matches and lost eight, with the two victories coming away to Mohun Bagan and at home to Pune FC.
The 2013 Second Division I-League champions were also unable to make much of an impact in the recently-held Federation Cup, where they drew two and lost one of their outings, bowing out at the end of the group stage.
A former footballer himself, Kashyap helped pull up ONGC last season after they were in dire straits midway into the year, seeing them finish in ninth spot, above such teams as Bagan and Shillong Lajong.
Before his innings with ONGC, Kashyap had a brief stint with the Mariners before being unceremoniously axed and replaced by Karim Bencherifa.
He is a well respected coach in Indian football, but even his promises that Rangdajied would still escape relegation do not seem to have been able to save him.
Despite a run of defeats and draws, Kashyap has always maintained that Rangdajied would not be relegated.
On Tuesday, he was quoted as saying on another website that a change in fortunes was only a game away.
“I’m still confident the way we are playing and we are definitely playing well,” he said.
“It’s a question of one win. Now we have an advantage of [three] home games. So I think we will perform better and get all positive results and save relegation.”
The Blues have performed fairly well from November onwards, but were still inconsistent with their performances.
Nevertheless, they have not been horribly embarrassed on the pitch, never having lost more than by a three-goal margin (3-0 to Bengaluru FC away and Mohammedan Sporting at home).
Rangdajied also won the Shillong Premier League last year and were unbeaten throughout, only drawing one match.
At the national level, however, the club have not had an easy introduction to the I-League.
With this season being one of the most competitive in many years a further seven points in their kitty, for example, would see the bottom club rocket up to seventh place.
They have also chopped and changed their line-up, with four players taken on loan last year from IMG-R and a furter foreigner, Ranty Martins, being signed only last week.
Changing coaches with just eight games left in the season may be seen to be akin to clutching at straws, but Rangdjied will hope that with five of those games at home, including the second Shillong derby against Lajong on April 6, the team will be able to pull off a turnaround.
The Blues’ next home game is on March 1 (against table leaders Bengaluru), giving the replacement coach a little over a week to try and make an impact. The club will then play United SC (Mar 9) and Mohun Bagan (Mar 15) before travelling away to East Bengal (Mar 23) and Salgaocar (Mar 29).
A return to Shillong will see them take on Sporting Clube de Goa on April 2 and Lajong four days later, which will be their last home game of the season.
They will end their 2013-14 campaign in Kolkata against Mohammedan on April 13.
Looking to a replacement, Shangpliang is certainly a bankable name, but whether his skill alone will be enough to change the team’s fortunes cannot be guessed at.
Not only was he a national level coach, in charge of the U-17 and U-20 national teams, he also led Shillong Lajong to qualify for the I-League in 2009.
Lajong then went with Stanley Rosario for their first season at the top tier, an association that was not very fruitful, with the Reds relegated at the end of 2009-10.
With an impressive resume, Rangdajied will hope that Shangpliang can work some magic in order for the Blues to escape the same fate.

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