Pressure of Captaincy Has Made Me More Responsible, Says Shillong Lajong’s Samuel
Samuel Lalmuanpuia is the youngest captain in the Super Cup and the second youngest only to the Indian Arrows skipper Amarjit Singh in the I-League. The 19-year old always backs himself to deliver and believes his now completed domestic season has been rewarding as a player, even though his side has not had the best one.
Shillong Lajong's Samuel Lalmuanpuia (Image: AIFF)
New Delhi: A top quality finish from the edge of the penalty box in April 2016, saw a 17-year old become the youngest to score in the I-League, the top division in Indian football. Samuel Lalmuanpuia, a little less than four months short of earning the right to vote at the time, managed to complete what he had set out to do – score in the derby against Aizawl FC.
Two seasons later he is the youngest captain in the Super Cup and the second youngest only to the Indian Arrows skipper Amarjit Singh in the I-League. The 19-year old always backs himself to deliver and believes his now completed domestic season has been rewarding as a player, even though his side has not had the best one.
“This season the coaches allowed me more freedom to play the way I wanted to and captaincy meant taking responsibility. Initially it was difficult, but working with the senior players helped me a lot,” says the AIFF Emerging Player of the Year. “It has been a big learning experience for me.”
For a better part of the season gone by, Lajong’s head coach Bobby Nongbet was away and his deputy Alison Kharsyntiew took charge. The coach and player combination of Alison and Samuel has worked well before, and the young man enjoyed another round as former is well acquainted with the squad.
“It was great to have Alison take over when needed because he has been there from before. There was no need for transition.”
Led by Samuel, Lajong finished sixth in the I-League, ahead of Gokulam FC, Chennai City FC, Churchill Brothers and the Indian Arrows.
“We’ve had problems defensively and we intend to return to competition with that improved to start with,” says Samuel. Lajong had the second most porous defense as they conceded 25 times in 18 games while managing to score only 17.
“We started well, but lost our way in the middle of the season. We need to be consistent all through if we want to be title contenders next season,” Samuel adds.
In the first edition of the Super Cup which is being played in the uncomfortable summer of Bhubaneswar in Odisha, Samuel and Lajong came from two goals down to beat the Indian Super League side FC Pune City 3-2, the captain scoring the winner, before they went onto get knocked out in the quarter-final stage against Mohun Bagan.
“The Super Cup has been a good competition and it has been a great leveller also. ISL have the big names but it is a team game, and the results speak for themselves,” Samuel says making his point clear. The debate on the supposed disparity between the teams from both the leagues has been a topic of discussion at several junctures, but all the young captain wants is another challenge.
“The heads will decide what has to be done. However it is, we are up for a challenge all the time,” he says making amply clear his eagerness to punch above his weight category.
In a little over three months, Samuel will turn 20. When quizzed about the future, the young man, who has dealt with responsibility in a very mature manner, is open to change.
“I am happy at Shillong Lajong. This is a very big family. But if a lucrative opportunity comes by in the Indian Super League I will be happy to take it up,” he signs off.
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