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‘Veteran’ Narzary happy to play second fiddle

Former India goalkeeper Rajat Ghosh Dastidar’s absence for most of the current season has jeopardised ONGC’s I-League qualification,but it has opened the doors for one of the team’s oldest ‘bravehearts’.

Former India goalkeeper Rajat Ghosh Dastidar’s absence for most of the current season has jeopardised ONGC’s I-League qualification,but it has opened the doors for one of the team’s oldest ‘bravehearts’.

The team’s second goalkeeper,Bilifang Narzary,has been with the team for five long years but it has been an in-and-out journey but the veteran. “My association with the team is pretty old. I have been on and off the responsibility,depending on Rajat’s availability. But I’ve always been aware of my job and there’s no pressure as such. We have to qualify for the I-League this year,” Narzary said.

But match practice,especially big matches – Narzary’s only appearance in last year’s qualification race was at Silchar – remains a concern. Goalkeeping coach Sudipto Chakroborty says Narzary has spent enough time with the team to raise his game for any stage. “He’s played almost all the matches in the Bombay League. We had to play Rajat in the important matches but Bilifang has been there for too long. And for any player,the start of the season is a bit tricky. He knows our chances rest on him this season and we have faith in him. Every season starts this way and it’s a temporary phase,” Chakroborty said ahead of their Durand Cup qualifier match on Tuesday.

Following a cracking start to his professional career with Mohun Bagan in 2003,the 25-year-old was picked by ONGC and the following years saw him emerge as the team’s main goalkeeper. The scenario changed once Rajat joined the team in 2006 but Narzary has no complaints. In fact,he admits to have learnt a few lessons.

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“I don’t mind playing second fiddle to Rajat. He’s played for India and has a lot to give us. His ability to read the game on field has been crucial. This is something I have always tried to learn but could never grasp. He decides the man-marking during play and his anticipation has been the key to our success in the last two years. We’re unlucky not to qualify for the I-League. We lost the last match to Viva Kerala where a draw would have been enough,” Narzary says.

Head coach Sujit Chakraborty,however,feels Narzary still needs time. “We haven’t found a replacement for Rajat and I’m a bit apprehensive. We have to do whatever we can for the time being but we have to find out a substitute,especially for the I-League qualifiers. Narzary has been doing well but he still needs some time,” the coach said.

First published on: 09-09-2009 at 04:35:49 am
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