Manvir Singh carries dreams of fans and his father
Striker Manvir Singh’s phone did not stop ringing on Tuesday night and his inbox was crammed with congratulatory messages from friends and fans.
The ATK Mohun Bagan forward scored a gem of a goal against NorthEast United FC (NEUFC) as Antonio Lopez Habas’ men entered the ISL VII final winning the second leg of the second semi-final 2-1.
The fans want him to score in Saturday’s final against Mumbai City FC as well. His father Kuldeep Singh also has the same wish. “He called to congratulate me. Like all the fans, he too wants me to score in the final. He wants us to become the champions. I hope my father’s wish will be fulfilled. Mumbai City are a strong side but we are ready to give our best,” the striker said on Wednesday.
Manvir said his left-footed strike on Tuesday is the best of the six goals he has scored in the season so far. “This is the best of the lot. Not because I dribbled past two defenders and found the target. The reason is it came in an important match, the semi-final,” he said.
If Bagan win on Saturday, it will be Manvir’s maiden ISL triumph. “In the 2018-2019 season, I was with FC Goa but we lost in the final. This time, I am optimistic.”
David Williams, who scored the first goal, felt Bagan could have won the match by a bigger margin. “When I score, the team doesn’t lose. It is good that I got one against NEUFC but I want to score more for the team. We could have scored more as well on Tuesday. But that is past. We are now looking forward to do well in the final,” the Australian said.
Coach Habas, who has won the title with ATK twice, sounded pleased.
“I am very happy with the performance of the players and the staff. The team showed good character. This is more important when the team is not playing well. My team showed character and played with intensity,” the Spanish coach said.
Bagan went for the kill right from kick-off. Habas revealed they wanted to finish the job within regulation time. “The idea was to win the match in 90 minutes. The players were very tired because of the humidity and we didn’t want to go into extra-time,” he said.
He also praised NEUFC. “They had a fantastic season. They are a difficult team.
But we were superior and it was a well-deserved victory,” he added.
It was NEUFC’s first loss since Khalid Jamil took charge in mid-January.
Khalid is satisfied with the performance. “In the first half, they played very well. Our players were not communicating well but we solved it at half-time. In the second half, we played better. We got our chances. I am proud of the players, they worked very hard,” Khalid said.
Khalid was unbeaten in 10 games and now hopes Indian coaches get more chances to prove themselves in the ISL. “We must give confidence to the Indian coaches. The foreign coaches are good, but the Indians are also capable. We have many good coaches, they only need a chance to prove themselves.”