Farukh Choudhary - Any position works for this versatile footballer

As a winger, or an attacking midfielder or a striker, the only thing that matters is how you understand football, says Jamshedpur FC's Farukh Choudhary.

Farukh Choudhary's versatility has shone through with new manager Antonio Iriondo deploying him as a centre forward or on the right wing.

Farukh Choudhary is enjoying his best season in a Jamshedpur FC shirt, having scored one goal and registered two assists in seven league appearances up to the match against Chennaiyin FC in the Indian Super League.

The Mumbai-born footballer’s versatility has shone through with new manager Antonio Iriondo deploying him as a centre forward or on the right wing. Choudhary rescued a point at home in the match against two-time champion Chennaiyin, playing under Owen Coyle for the first time.

“I feel good and confident (about my own game), I am giving my best and I think that’s what the coach likes about me. He trusts me now and is giving me chances. I am grateful to the coach that he’s giving me starts in all the games,” Choudhary said in a telephone interview after the game.

Choudhary said Iriondo believes in his abilities and has rewarded him for not just his performances on the pitch, but also the work he puts in on the training ground. “The coach trusts me and he knows what I am capable of. He always tells me to work on my strengths. He saw that I am performing not only in the matches, but also in training. Whoever performs well in training, he gives them chances,” he said.

Farukh Choudhary attempts an overhead kick against Bengaluru FC, forcing a save off Gurpreet Singh Sandhu.

 

With a goal and an assist, Choudhary’s most productive match of the season came at home, at the Furnace, against Hyderabad FC. He started the match as a central striker alongside the on-loan Sergio Castel before Iriondo switched him to the left wing with the substitution of Aniket Jadhav for Isaac Vanmalsawma. He assisted Jadhav’s goal playing as a wide forward.

The performance offered a glimpse of Farukh’s adaptability. “Personally, position doesn’t matter when I am attacking. As a winger, or an attacking midfielder or a striker, the only thing that matters is how you understand football and how we make movements to get behind the (opposition’s) defence and create chances for the team. Wherever he (the coach) puts me, I have to create chances for my team and also work defensively,” said Choudhary.

However, he does like to play as a striker. “Since I started playing professional football, that’s the position I have played in. I love to get near the goal post, score goals. If I get to play as a right (-sided), left (-sided) attacker or an attacking midfielder, I like it, too, but I would love to play as a striker.”

With nine goals in seven matches, Jamshedpur, under Iriondo, hasn’t been one of the free-scoring teams this season. Its failure to convert chances has contributed to the team drawing three of its matches and picking up only 12 points from a possible 21.

Choudhary concedes that dropping points has been frustrating. “I think we deserved the three points, but this is football. Anything can happen. They (NorthEast United) scored in the last few minutes. That was really frustrating, only because we got so many chances and we didn’t convert, otherwise we should have scored two-three goals minimum. We could have easily taken the three points,” he said.

According to Choudhary, the home match against defending champion Bengaluru FC has been the most challenging for his team so far. “We attacked and they also attacked, that was a game where (our goalkeeper) Subrata Paul made the most saves (nine to Gurpreet Singh Sandhu’s three). So, when the goalkeeper is making so many saves, you’ve got to understand it’s probably a difficult game,” he said.

Explaining his partnership with on-loan forward Castel, who is the second-highest goal-scorer this season, Choudhary said: “Yes, he is focused and scoring goals, which is really great for our team. From the beginning, we have been combining well because we have been playing together since the start of the season. He understands when I get the ball where I am going to put the ball, and I understand his movements.”

- Igor’s inputs -

Under new Indian national football team coach Igor Stimac, Choudhary has had reasonable first-team action in the last four months. He played 45 minutes of the FIFA World Cup qualifier against Afghanistan and 90 minutes of the second-leg match against Oman in November.

Stimac, Choudhary said, sees him “capable of doing great things,” but also tells him he can improve.

“I think he expects (me to play) the same way I am performing in the ISL. He keeps telling me, ‘Play as simple as you can, don’t make it very complicated for yourself, where you can get into difficult situations,’” said Choudhary. “He keeps reminding me: ‘You are a striker. Whenever you are near the halfway line, try to play one-touch, two-touch, give the ball to the midfielders and just focus on the 18-yard box. That’s where you get your chances as an attacker.’”

Under the tutelage of Iriondo and Stimac, and with a good head on his shoulders, Choudhary’s headed in the right direction!