From winger to striker: Sougou thriving in new role

Modou Sougou has hit the ground running in his maiden Indian Super League (ISL 2018-19) stint with the help of some familiar faces.

Modou Sougou became the first player in ISL to score four goals in a match.   -  ISL/SPORTZPICS

Senegal international Modou Sougou accepted Portuguese coach Jorge Costa’s offer of an India adventure with Mumbai City FC in the Indian Super League (ISL) before the 2018-19 season commenced. Nine goals later, the wiry striker is getting noticed, justifying his coach’s choice with – in addition to the goals – assists and boundless energy on the pitch. A historic four goals in the 6-1 thumping of the Kerala Blasters was a special effort from the forward, putting into effect the moves planned by the coach.

READ | Sougou masterclass sinks Blasters

"You cannot win a game alone for the team. The important thing is to keep focus on the things we are expected to do. The goals came from moves we worked at in training,” Sougou said after becoming Mumbai City's all-time top-scorer with nine goals.

Familiar faces

At Mumbai City, Sougou has found familiar faces who have helped translate the ground work onto the pitch, having previously worked with Costa at Academica Coimbra in Portugal and Romania's CFR Cluj.

Paulo Machado, Sougou's one-time teammate at the Academica, drilled the ball in from a deep position on the left flank towards goal, which was helped past the Blasters 'keeper Dheeraj Singh by a sliding Sougou for his first goal of the night.

Modou Sougou has previously worked with Rafael Bastos (L) and Paulo Machado (top) in Europe. PHOTO: ISL/SPORTZPICS

 

“We played together in Portugal and I know what he is thinking. The first goal is always important because it set up the team mood,” MCFC’s leading scorer said. After Sougou completed his hat-trick, he watched his former teammate at Cluj, Brazilian Rafael Bastos, hammer in the fourth goal.

Bastos and the Senegal forward played their parts in Cluj’s famous 1-0 victory in the 2012 UEFA Champions League group game against Manchester United. “We won 1-0 against Sir Alex Ferguson’s team at Old Trafford,” he said. Sougou came close to getting his name on the score sheet that night, but his 22nd minute effort was deflected out.

Sougou's punt

The 33-year-old was out of a contract after his stint with Sheffield Wednesday in England before the newly appointed Mumbai City boss Costa came calling. “The coach asked me about the ISL, informed me that Machado and Bastos are also joining. Costa is more than a coach; he is a mentor away from football, teaching us how to be professional. I decided to try something new in life,” said Sougou.

The enticing part about the offer to play in India was a change in playing position: to move up front as a striker from a winger. “I am happy. It gives me opportunities to get into the box and do more for my team,” said Sougou, who is looking to return refreshed after the month-long Christmas break.

“I want to come back and finish the job for my side,” he said. Mumbai City, which is second in the points table after 12 matches, is closing in on a playoff place. The nine strikes so far have pushed him into third place on the ISL Golden Boot list. With his teammates willing to feed him passes, the sleek striker will be back hungry for goals.