Players to watch: Mohun Bagan's Ram Malik

The winger is the best thing to have happened to the Mariners this season and Goal tracks his emergence...
 Atanu Mitra
 FEATURE | India
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Full Name: Ram Malik
Former Clubs: United Sports Club, Kalighat, Aryan
Position: Right Winger

Very few youngsters have succeeded in getting a strong foothold in the starting eleven of the Kolkata clubs in their very first seasons. Ram Malik’s name has been buzzing around the Maidan for quite some time now and the winger has done justice to all the brouhaha about him.

The 22-year old has blistering pace which can put the opposition full backs under pressure and his ability to deliver pinpoint crosses is also commendable.

Malik explains that he started his career as a striker but it was his coach’s insistence at the Bagan academy that he was converted into a winger.

"During the first few years, I played as a striker. However, it was one of the coaches in the Mohun Bagan academy, who used me on the right wing in a session. I have been playing in that position since then," the young prospect told Goal.

Hailing from a village in Burdwan, the starlet received his first lessons at a camp near his residence. He caught the attention of scouts from Mohun Bagan when participating in a district football tournament for youngsters.

"It was my first coach Ratan Das, who taught me the basics. Sushanta Guha, my coach in the ‘Nursery League’ was also immensely helpful. However, it was the admission to the Mohun Bagan SAIL academy that changed the course of my life," he remarked.

The Bagan academy product had stints at United Sports Club and Kalighat MS before joining Aryan last season, where his consistent performances in the Calcutta League got Karim Bencherifa to rope him in the senior squad of the Mariners.

Making it into the first team of a top club like Mohun Bagan was the best thing happened to Malik and he wants to make it count.

"I am trying to improve every day and will try to cement my place in the team. I have a deal running till the end of the season with club and I hope the club will extend the agreement," he mentioned.

He praised Karim Bencherifa’s role in building his confidence and believes that the Moroccan’s ability to get the best out of youngsters in Indian football is second to none.

"Karim is a very friendly figure and helps me out on every occasion. He also has a tendency of handing young players the opportunity and that worked for me,” he observed.

“For minor problems, I talk with Kingshuk Debnath," he added and named Syed Rahim Nabi and Ashim Biswas of Mohammedan Sporting as his idols.

Malik has played his part in 13 of Mohun Bagan's 15 I-League encounters and has slowly established himself as the first choice right winger ahead of the likes of Manish Bhargav and Shankar Oraon. Having scored his first I-League goal against United Sports Club, he went on to score in a crucial encounter against Pune FC.

The only grey area in his style of play is his ability to defend. His diminutive stature doesn’t help much in that regard however he has been prudent enough to ride on his speed and outrunning the opponents.

One can safely assume that an exciting young talent has arrived in Indian football and his career graph will be followed with utter assiduity.

The man in discussion, however, wants to work hard and improve even more.

"I will just try to keep going and hope that everything falls in place," he signed off.

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