ISL 2018-19: AFC Asian Cup dreams fading fast for Eugeneson Lyngdoh as ATK exile continues

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Eugeneson Lyngdoh is finding game time impossible to come by despite returning to fitness from a severe knee injury...

Just over a month remains for the AFC (Asian Football Confederation) Asian Cup to kick off in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and as such, Eugeneson Lyngdoh’s hopes of wearing the blue of India in the continental competition are fast fading away.

Two years ago, the Shillong-born midfielder’s stock was as high as it has ever been with Lyngdoh flying high for both club and country. An important part of the Bengaluru FC set up and the first name in the national team’s midfield, Lyngdoh’s star was clearly on the rise.

Hence, when ATK made him the joint costliest purchase of the domestic player draft ahead of the 2017-18 Indian Super League (ISL) season, no one batted an eyelid.

The stage was all set for Lyngdoh to shine for the then defending ISL champions but 15 months or so down the line, it has all gone pear-shaped for the former Wahingdoh midfielder.

Just three matches into the ATK’s campaign under Teddy Sheringham, Lyngdoh ruptured his Lateral Collateral Ligament (LCL) in his left knee in their away clash with Jamshedpur FC.

He would subsequently play no further part in the remainder of the league and would undergo knee surgery at the start of 2018. A long and frustrating period of rehabilitation and recuperation followed for the ATK man with the 2017-18 season going down as a write-off.

The 2018-19 season was meant to herald the midfielder’s long-awaited comeback but with nearly half of it now completed, Lyngdoh seems to be fading into obscurity for ATK.

The central midfielder came off the bench for 20 minutes or so in place of Balwant Singh in the Kolkata club’s campaign opener against Kerala Blasters. Since that 0-2 loss for Steve Coppell and his men, Lyngdoh has failed to garner another minute on the pitch. He was not even picked in the match-day squad when ATK lined up against his former club Bengaluru.

Although he did manage to make the bench for his side’s three most recent clashes, Lyngdoh was not called upon even once by Coppell. With Gerson Vieira and Pronay Halder establishing themselves as Coppell’s preferred partnership in midfield, Lyngdoh has been left in the cold.

It is not a question of fitness as Coppell clearly clarified ahead of ATK’s clash with Chennaiyin FC.

“Eugeneson was injured very early last season and was out for a long time. We started slowly in our first two games and then picked up points. Pronay has been significant to that,” the English coach had stated on Saturday.

“Alongside we have had several strong midfielders and it is a hard central midfield to break into. He has been patient and he has to be. He is a very good player. It is a question of being patient.”

As patient as Lyngdoh might be, the curtains are fast fading on his Asian Cup dreams.

“First objective is to play regular football, play this ISL, get regular games. Then, the second objective will to try to get back into the Indian team," Lyngdoh had told Goal about his targets ahead of the start of the 2018-19 season.

With his very first target no closer to fruition, it will now take something miraculous to see the midfielder board the plane to UAE, come the Asian Cup.

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