Thursday, August 14, 2008

Bhaichung : most valuable player of the AFC tournament


New Delhi:
The Sikkimese Sniper has been one of the best Indian players in the ongoing AFC Challenge Cup ’08 and that has also put him in the reckoning for the Most Valuable Player of the Tournament.
The 32 year old has had a role in almost the goals scored by the Men in Blue in the AFC Challenge Cup ’08 and always looks a threat to the opposition’s defence.
While every member of the Indian team has been waxing lyrical on Coach Bob Houghton, the skipper is no different. “I won’t say that he (Bob) drastically changed me as a player. Under him, one gets to learn a lot not just as a player and that motivates.”
When Bhaichung mentions the word ‘motivation’ it is to be taken very seriously as a few years back, he mentioned the lack of it which made him consider hanging his boots. “I never said that I was retiring then. I said that I’m considering quitting too. It was primarily due to lack of motivation.” Enter Bob Houghton and the Englishman was impressed with the Mohun Bagan star’s active presence in front of the goal and as a leader.
“Bob wanted me to re-think my decision,” said Bhaichung reflectively. What has kept Bhaichung going till today? “Wanting to win and to score goals... The last two years, our team has done outstandingly well. We have lost only three or four times. It’s a great achievement.
“We have played many good matches. A good Nehru Cup and a good SAFF Cup as well. Only the game against Bhutan in SAFF Cup, we didn’t play that well.” Post-SAFF Cup, certain circles criticized the national team, but everyone in the team seems unperturbed by all of it for good.
“We defeated Maldives in the group stage but lost in the finals towards the end. It’s like India (cricket team) play six games against Bangladesh and loses the final. That doesn’t mean that India plays worse than Bangladesh.”
At 32, Bhaichung is fit and fine, and his alertness still makes defenders sweat. Ask him about post-retirement plans and the striker says, “Once I stop playing, I would want to be in a position where you have the decision-making power. “As a player or a coach, one can’t do a lot.” (Agencies)