Former India captain Gouramangi Singh has stressed on the “importance of utilising the little opportunities that central defenders get” to bomb forward on set-pieces, saying that his international goals gave him “a lot of confidence”.
In a live chat with AIFF TV, the former India defender reminisced about occasions when he had put the ball in the back of the opposition net in international football.
During the chat, current India captain Sunil Chhetri commented: “I still tell our national team defenders and some other midfielders, and attackers too, that Mangi bhai has more goals for the country than all of them.”
Mangi, as Gouramangi is fondly called, smiled and said: “I remember my goals for India, of course. And some of them were very important goals.”
Gouramangi pointed out the responsibilities of the central defender. “As a central defender my primary job is in defence. So, in the entire 90 minutes, I would get perhaps not more than 2-3 opportunities to go up,” he said.
“When you go forward as a defender, you hope, you pray, that you score – especially because I am not a natural goal scorer. So, it gives you a lot of confidence when you score.”
Though Gouramangi couldn’t pick up his favourite goal, Chhetri again took to the comments section and promptly pointed out his favourite ‘Mangi’ strikes: “Against Cameroon and Bahrain…my picks!”
However, the former India No.19 did agree on pinpointing a couple of goals that he felt were important in the context of the matches.
“We were in Male (Maldives) playing the SAFF Cup (2008) semi-final against Bhutan. Sunil had put us level in the first half, and then we could not break them for a long time. We were almost at the end of extra time, with about a minute left, when we got a free-kick,” said Mangi.
“Samir (Nayak) bhai took the free-kick, and Abhishek (Yadav) bhai headed it on to me. Somehow, I was there and managed to put it in. I generally do not consider scoring as important as defending, but in that match, I was relieved that we did not have to take the game to penalties,” Mangi recalled. To that, Chhetri again commented: “Reason was we were bad and missed plenty of chances and, yes, Mangi saved us the match and also some heat from Sir Bob (Houghton, the Indian team coach).”