“It’s time everyone in the squad to stand up and be counted. Each one of us has a job to do and with others not here, it falls on us to get the job done. That is exactly what we did,” stated the Manvir Singh after Sunday’s heroics. “I am a forward and I get paid to score goals. I am happy for sure, and this is why I play the game. It’s nice to put a smile on the faces of all the FC Goa fans that traveled so far. We owe this victory to them.”
The 24-year-old seems to have turned a page in his career, this season in the Indian Super League. With injuries and suspension hounding the squad on the opening day of the season, the lad from Punjab was summoned by Sergio Lobera to lead the troops against Chennaiyin FC.
Although he didn’t get his name on the scoresheet, an inspiring performance saw him spearhead the attack as the Gaurs dazzled all and sundry on the way to a comprehensive 3-0 win.
A few games later, he did get that elusive goal. And what a time to score! Deep into added-on-time and a man down, the lanky forward rose highest to help Goa grab a dramatic point away to NorthEast United.
A few weeks later, a similar situation presented itself again to Manvir Singh. A red card to Mourtada Fall followed by a strike from the Blasters had hamstrung the Gaurs. Last year’s runners-up were truly staring down the barrel of a second-successive loss.
In stepped Manvir. Intuition and anticipation had helped him get to a rickochet at the edge of the box. He did brilliantly to charge into the box, elude the first tackle with a nifty move inside and then place the ball to the far post.
TP Rehnesh was up to the mark in the Kerala goal but he could only palm the ball out to an onrushing Lenny Rodrigues – who slotted it home with his first touch. Whilst the industrious midfielder took home all the plaudits, one couldn’t ignore the role played by the forward.
An hour into the game on Sunday night, Sergio Lobera again looked to Manvir to deliver the goods after the Gaurs’ threat on the Hyderabad goal looked inconsistent at best.
Six minutes into the second half, the forward had struck gold again. Using his aerial prowess, the Indian international was able to guide home Brandon Fernandes’ corner to score what would eventually turn out to be the winner.
Football sometimes presents players with opportunities that they don’t always envisage. Making the most out of them is what separates the men from the boys.
“For me, the competition is Coro. He is the best in the league – so I have to take my omissions with a degree of reality. But that at the same time motivates me to be better with each passing game,” added Manvir. “There is quality throughout our side and more than that, we know how to fight through adversity. You can see similarly (Mourtada) Fall has been instrumental to our side, but with him not here, Sana stepped up to the plate and showed how good a player he is. Ali came in from him in the last game and we have Aiban looking from the outside for his opportunity as well. So there is strength in depth to the side.”
The trademark of a winning team sometimes lies in their ability to eke out positives (whisper ‘wins’) when the circumstances are not the best. The going hasn’t been smooth for the Gaurs in the opening stages of the season, but a look at the table and you see FC Goa within touching distance of the leaders.
With Coro and Fall back for the next game and a full squad to tackle the challenges in the near future, one can only see brighter days ahead for the Super Cup Champions.