Federation Cup: It Was The Best Day Of My Career - East Bengal Goalkeeper Abhra Mondal

The Federation Cup final hero spoke to Goal.com…
After conceding five goals against Mohun Bagan in the I-League, many people thought East Bengal goalkeeper Abhra Mondal may not have the confidence to play at the top level again.

But the 23 year old custodian didn’t give up and came back with strongly in the Federation Cup. He didn’t concede a single goal in the tournament and in the final he saved three penalties in the shootout.

Abhra talked about his recovery and stated that the Federation Cup triumph is so far the best moment of his professional career.

Speaking to Goal.com he said, “It was very difficult initially after the heavy derby defeat but many senior keepers and former players advised me to keep going so I worked even harder in training.

“I took one game at a time and focused on giving my best. To save three penalties in a shootout is a dream and that too in a cup final is even bigger so it was the best day of my career so far.”

Abhra expressed his delight on ending East Bengal’s two year trophy drought and also said how proud he was to wear the captain’s armband during the latter stages of the match.

“I am very happy for the fans because they didn’t have much to shout about last season. It was also a very proud moment for me to be the captain of East Bengal because they are such a big club with so much history.”

The former HAL goalkeeper then revealed his tactics during the shootout.

“There wasn’t any particular strategy but I wanted to distract their (Lajong’s) penalty takers because in the shootout it’s a mind game also.”

Abhra then acknowledged the contribution of coach De Ridder and Nigerian defender Uga Okpara in East Bengal’s turnaround.

“De Ridder has played a big role in the change of our fortunes. He is a great coach, who has developed a very good understanding with all the players and that is very important.

“The arrival of Okpara has also helped our defence because he is a leader and that has helped the other defenders gel properly.”

Finally he gave the whole team credit for their fantastic defensive record and remained confident of doing well both in the I-League and AFC Cup.

“Each and every player has contributed to the five clean sheets. We are playing as a unit now and this win has given us a lot of confidence for the rest of the season.

“We will now be taking one game at a time and I have full faith in our team to perform well in both the I-League and AFC Cup” he concluded.

Amoy Ghoshal

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