Back In The Fray for the First Time In Five Months, Lalthuammawia Ralte Put On A Man-Of-The-Match Show Against Abahani Dhaka. We Spoke To The Shot-stopper And Blues’ Goalkeeping Coach, Ali Uzunhasanoglu…
For long weeks and tiring months, Lalthuammawia Ralte shuttled between the gym and the physiotherapists’ room at the club offices, waiting to regain fitness and be back in the Blues’ squad. Having recovered from an injury in March, the 24-year-old was thrown into the starting eleven for the Blues’ third AFC Cup game of the season, his first since the 2016 Final against Air Force Club Iraq.
“It was a special moment for me. I’ve been working hard in the gym and with the medical team, who have been so relentless in their pursuit to get me fit. I didn’t know until the day before the game that I would feature but I have to say it was a good moment,” Ralte said after the clash.
Goalkeeper Coach Ali Uzunhasanoglu, meanwhile, heaped praise on the club’s medical department, saying the shot-stopper’s performance came as no surprise to him.
“The medical team has worked tirelessly with Ralte to bring him back to his best. When he returned to training, he was in a good shape but not match fit. It was a nice surprise that the boss decided to play him as early as yesterday but the performance wasn’t a surprise to me. I’ve always known that the boy has plenty to offer as he understands the game as well as any other goalkeeper.
A summer signing from Shillong Lajong in 2014, Ralte made 32 appearances in his debut season and has been a constant threat to Amrinder Singh’s position in the BFC goal since the latter’s arrival from Pune in December 2015. With all his goalkeepers match fit for the first time this season, Ali believes that competition for places will benefit the club.
“Mawia is really good on his feet and is the best goalkeeper in India when it comes to dealing with back passes. It’s always a nice problem to have when a club has good goalkeepers and only eleven to choose from it. The challenge pushes them to be better than others,” Ali added.
Ralte meanwhile looks to build on his performance, where he pulled two important saves to deny Abahani a surprise lead before the Blues scored two in either half to secure the tie.
“It was a privilege for me to be named man-of-the-match. I have a lot of people to thank for getting me fit to play once again; the medical team, the coaches, my family and friends who have always been praying for me. I know that there’s a lot of football to be played in the Federation Cup and the AFC Cup and I will look to build on this going forward in the season.”