As FC Goa look to finish in the top four for the second consecutive season, scoring goals galore yet again, one cannot overlook the lethality that new import Jackichand Singh has brought to the side. The former Kerala Blasters man revealed that the lack of extra defensive duties has done the trick.
Going by sheer numbers, Jackichand wouldn’t come across as a significant player for the Gaurs, more so, for the number of goals and assists that Ferran Corominas and Edu Bedia have piled up. However, the new import, who had, to put it mildly, an underwhelming season with Kerala last season has been Sergio Lobera’s main weapon from the left this season.
Playing over 1000 minutes in as many as 14 matches, Jackichand has been shouldered with one of the tougher responsibilities - to create chances and execute them. Lobera’s tiki-taka resembling offensive setup helps Goa’s players to transform defence into attack quite seamlessly, from where it is up to the top three to get the job done. And while Jackichand has only managed two goals and two assists so far, it is his terrorizing runs behind defences that Goa
Jacki’s recent performances have reminded many of the vibrant forward that broke onto the Indian football scene years back through Shillong-based Royal Wahingdoh. After a few years of no-show, the Manipur man has seemingly jolted back to form under Lobera’s tutelage. Though Jacki is yet to overcome his Kerala Blasters’ stats (2 goals and 3 assists) from last season, he has improved massively in terms of impact. And he feels it had much to do with the defensive contributions demanded from him.
“I definitely had more defensive duties in Kerala Blasters. I was even asked to play as the left back in two-three matches, which had slashed my attacking contribution to quite an extent. My approach in football has always been with an attacking mindset and I feel wing would bring the best out of me any day,” said Jackichand Singh in an exclusive interview with Sportscafe.
Jackichand had played against Bengaluru FC and NorthEast United as a left-back last season under David James and had even managed an assist against the Highlanders from the unusual position. Interestingly, the nimble-footed forward has been experimented with in numerous positions throughout his career with the right wing being his most successful position, from where he has five goals and two assists.
However, Lobera has very much preferred Jackichand on the left wing, so much so that even Mandar Rao Desai had to adopt a defensive role on the flank to accommodate his new teammate. But, Jackichand sounded pretty comfortable with any position as long as he was on the offensive.
“I had started playing as a midfielder initially. I soon ended up in flanks only in Royal where the coach thought I would do better down the channels for my pace. So, I have been playing both the sides [left and right flank] throughout my career and haven’t felt any problems as such with my game.”
Starting back in 2007, I-League had been India’s top flight football league looking to have a proper structure in place. However, Indian Super League arrived at the scene seven years later with all its glitz and money, proving to I-League that all that could be done much better. I-League has since receded to being the second-tier tournament with the administration even refusing to telecast most of its matches next season.
Jacki, who has been a part of both the leagues, clearly prefers ISL. When asked about it, Jacki said, “I have found the quality of practice, the coaching and of training much better and I think I can perform better than what I have done so far. The quality of foreign players is also high and more here and more in number as compared to I-league. A player gets to improve season after season and I would personally much prefer the playing style of ISL over I-league.”
If creating a talent pool was one of the primary objectives of ISL, then it has been extremely successful. While Ashique Kuruniyan stole the limelight with his sparkling display in the AFC Asian Cup, Indian football fans would be looking at many such promising footballers in the coming years in the likes of Michael Soosairaj, Seiminlen Doungel, Lallianzuala Chhangte, and more.
Jacki, unfortunately, hasn’t succeeded in cementing a national place despite staying on the national circuit for a while now. And when asked about the upcoming stars, he admitted that cracking into the Indian side now would be tougher than ever.
“It is difficult to get a crack into the Indian eleven, I agree. There are many young players who are emerging and have real quality in skills, finishing and shooting. But, I will keep working hard for my place no matter what,” concluded Jackichand Singh.
Cricket FootBall Kabaddi