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Odd man out in Delhi football

Manoranjan Bhattacharya,Hindustan FC coach,could seldom be seen sitting in the team dugout during the DSA league matches.

Written by Saikat Sarkar | New Delhi | Published: February 18, 2009 11:23 pm

Only player in DSA to don India jersey,Monitombi has made a difference for Hindustan FC

Manoranjan Bhattacharya,Hindustan FC coach,could seldom be seen sitting in the team dugout during the DSA league matches. But for all the shouting and biting of nails he has done this season,none of it has been for his defenders,who have conceded only three goals in the Super League.

For their not-so-impressive goal average (of +6),the strikers gave Bhattacharya plenty of reasons to frown,but Monitombi Singh’s trapping as the left back and his ‘all-controlling’ mode on the field has seen the club through difficult times this season.

Singh,the only player in the city league at present to have donned the Indian blue,is admittedly over the hill,but the signs of the odd man out have still not escaped notice — as much in containing as in attacking through the left flank.

Now 28,Singh was indeed the odd man out back in 2005-06,after having captained the likes of Jose Ramirez Barreto,Rennedy Singh,Tomba Singh and Ashim Biswas,all in green and maroon.

“Playing for Mohun Bagan and then leading them was a great experience. But I felt captaincy was affecting my game. Under my captaincy,we reached the Federation Cup and Durand Cup finals,but I was under a bit of pressure. That’s why I left Bagan and went to Salgaocar,” says Singh.

The Goa club,incidentally,was his first home away from home,but the second homecoming proved disastrous,almost career-threatening. “I suffered a severe meniscus injury on my right knee playing in Goa and couldn’t play for two years,” Singh says. Perhaps the coincidence was just too striking to be missed as he laughingly adds: “I got injured while playing against Mohun Bagan,we lost 1-0. It was a tackle against Dharamjeet.”

Uncertain future
The Achambegoer boy from Manipur,for the next two years,was uncertain of continuing with the game itself,let alone finding a place among the elite or the national team. “I was a bit scared at that point of my career. In football,you need time to get back into the groove,” Singh adds.

A blink-and-miss with Tollygunge Agragami the next season,and then a completely new place to ply his trade,it’s not about calculating the perks for Monitombi these days.

“I didn’t know much about football in Delhi. But,at that time,I badly needed a change to continue with the game. I know I’m not going to profit anything playing here,but it has helped me keep in touch with the game,” Singh says.

It’s this ability of Singh’s to perform without motivation that has earned him the praise of his coach. “Playing in East Bengal or Mohun Bagan itself is a motivation. But here his game has been as good without any motivation to play for. His experience has certainly come good this year,” says Bhattacharya.

Final flourish
Having spent about two seasons in Delhi and his legs shrugging of the rust in the meantime,a big shot will not be missed next season,especially after making a mark at the highest level in the country.

“Now,I’m fully fit. I’m just working on my physique a bit. Most people involved with football in the country know me. Though I haven’t decided about making a move,but I might speak to bigger clubs by the end of this season,” Singh adds.

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