Eugeneson Lyngdoh: Bengaluru FC feels like home

Eugeneson Lyngdoh, who hasn't played for the last two years, aims to challenge for a spot in the Bengaluru FC line-up, and then get back to the Indian national team.

Eugeneson Lyngdoh was part of Bengaluru FC in 2014.   -  K. Murali Kumar

Eugeneson Lyngdoh is happy he can play football again. After two difficult ISL seasons at ATK, when he spent less than six hours on the pitch in total, he is back at Bengaluru FC -- a club where he first made an impression, where he first earned an India call-up, and where the fans still sing his name. "It just feels like home," he grins. "I feel free, I feel I can play football again. It's a relief."

Things were decidedly gloomy for Lyngdoh at ATK. He had joined the Kolkata club at the start of the 2017-18 season amid great expectation, given his status as one of the country's finest midfielders. But three games into the campaign, Lyngdoh tore a knee ligament that put him out of action for close to a whole year. By the time he returned, ATK had appointed Steve Coppell as coach. The Englishman, it turned out, did not feel Lyngdoh had a place in the side.

"I had an up-front talk with the coach and he said I was never in his plans," he says. "Obviously, it's frustrating, neither playing nor being able to get out of the club. As a player I had to live with it and never lose heart. I could've just faded away but I wanted to play football. That driving force kept me going. That's what made me turn up for training sessions even knowing that I was never going to get picked. It was hard."

But Lyngdoh didn't lose hope. "It was something I knew I had to fight within myself. It was easy for me to go away and hide. But I used every training session to build myself. It was a testing time in my football career."

Lyngdoh first joined BFC in 2014 and was an integral part of the side that reached the AFC Cup final in 2016 under Albert Roca and Carles Cuadrat. The latter is now the head coach, and Lyngdoh is pleased he's playing for a man who appreciates his talents.

"I'm with a coach who's got faith in me," he says. "BFC is the only team here that actually sticks with a coach and builds on a philosophy. You want to go to a team that is like that. Unlike a team that has a different coach every year. The philosophy of the team changes every season and you never know what's going to happen."

Lyngdoh is 33, and with competition for places in midfield high, he is not guaranteed to start every game for BFC. “My first target is to play and challenge for selection every week,” he says. “I've not played for the past two years. Then my aim is to get back into the national team."

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