Thongkhosiem Haokip is the only Indian to have scored a hat-trick in the I-League and the Indian Super League (ISL) as well. The 22-year-old only became the second Indian to score three goals in the fledgling league after Sunil Chhetri’s hat-trick against NorthEast United.
What’s remarkable about Haokip’s feat is that each of the three goals were scored from open play.
“We have to do what is best for the team. Haokip has a rhythm of the game. Victorino (Fernandes) and Reinaldo were coming back from injury and were informed by me of the decision to start with Dudu (Omagbemi) and Haokip. I told them they would be substitutes. I told them I had to be cautious about the players that come from injury,” said FC Goa coach Zico after their 7-0 trouncing of Mumbai City FC.
The Brazilian further praised Haokip for his desire to improve and hopes that he turns out to be a fantastic footballer. Haokip’s technique was evident in the manner in which he passed a ball towards Dudu for the first goal. With his first touch, he played the ball to Dudu to put the Nigerian through on goal.
“Haokip is a player who has a good technique and is very smart to play with. You can see the way he passes the ball and controls it during the game. He always wants to learn. He trains more than his team mates and is very receptive to information. So it's nice to see. He's always smiling and in a good mood. He's being encouraged by us, and hopefully becomes a bright footballer,” said the former Iraq coach.
Zico mentioned that Rafael Coelho is still recuperating from the injury picked up against FC Pune City.
“We are going to prepare him well. We are hopeful of having him available by the end of the tournament. Of course, I will him another two weeks to become 100 per cent by the end of the tournament,” said the Flamengo legend.
He stressed that while it is important to score goals, playing a good brand of football was equally important.
“As a coach, in Fenerbahce, I won 10-0. It's the first time in the ISL that this scoreline has been achieved. I think even more important than the seven goals, is to play nice and respect the opponents. It is there in the rules, that goal difference is one of the tie breakers so if we score more, even better,” he concluded.