Can resist Krishna, Boumous by keeping our defence compact: SC East Bengal's Hira Mondal
Two months ago, he wasn’t there in the line-up for the first Kolkata Derby of the season. But in these two months, He has proved himself to get into the first eleven of SC East Bengal for the second leg Derby. Hira Mondal, the young defender of the Kolkata club is now a star in the making.
His journey from a small football ground of Baidyabati, his native place in West Bengal, to the Indian Super League, the biggest platform of Indian football, has been full of excitement. in an exclusive chat to www.indiansuperleague.com , Hira Mondal has revealed the journey along with his feelings for Hero ISL debut and the opportunity to play in the real Kolkata Derby for first time.
How was your Derby-experience in boyhood?
I grew up watching Derbies. In my boyhood, Derbies happened to be a festival for us. We all are East Bengal supporters in our locality. We used to decorate our area with club’s flags, posters of football stars. To watch derbies at the club premises together, we would install big TV’s or giant screens. We had grand celebrations for East Bengal’s win in derbies.
I got the opportunity to play a Derby for first time, when I was an U19 player. I can still remember I scored a goal from penalty kick and Jiten Murmu scored the other one. We won by two goals. That was a memorable day. I will be very happy to get an opportunity to play in a Derby again on such a big platform.
How did you feel in few days before the Derby?
For any Bengali, Derby is a big thing. That’s why, I have been feeling something different for few days before the Derby. I can feel little bit of pressure and happiness as well. Excited too. We are ready and interested too for the Derby. Every one of us is planning to give our everything in this match. We are preparing for the match keeping this in mind. We must get a good result in this big match.
How is the experience of your first Hero ISL?
Yes, it’s good. I faced some problems initially because of the speed and standard of the local and overseas players here. Since I got support from teammates and coaches, I am fine now and adapted quickly. Now I love to play on such a big stage.
How is the mode of the camp?
We didn’t get good results initially. But improved gradually. In three matches among last four, we performed well. Now we have gained some confidence. We have started believing that we, too, can perform well. With this confidence we are getting ready for the Derby. Trying to to rectify our mistakes. Motivation level has increased. Though, the last match didn’t go well. But we are confident to bounce back.
What do you have to say about your new coach?
I know him since 2019, when I was there in East Bengal squad. Though, didn’t get many chances to train under him. Not more than 2-3 days. Next season, he took the charge as the head coach and brought the team to a good level. He is a very good human being. Wants to be friendly with us. Always eager to solve our issues on and off the field. Even he is always alert about our food. Helps a lot to rectify our mistakes. He does perfectly what a coach should do.
How will you combat the sharp attack by ATK Mohun Bagan?
Yeah, there attacking line is really good. Perhaps the best in the ISL. But we are prepared for that. Our defence line is strong as well. If each one of us can give hundred percent, it is possible to resist them. They aren’t that much special to be irresistible. Our initial aim is to organize our defence first, keep it compact. Especially the middle of the defence line. Then, go for attack.
Usually, what happens back in your home and locality on the Derby-day?
Since me and my younger brother started to play football, our mother has become a football fan. She always know, when to watch a match on TV. We are East Bengal supporters. Mom feels proud for me, because I play for our favorite club sporting our favorite colors. She will be happier and proud if I get the opportunity to play the Derby on Saturday. Didn’t get the chance to play in the first one. If I get the opportunity to play this time, I can promise to give everything I have.
How was your journey from your boyhood to ISL? Tell us in short.
I was introduced to football by one of my friends, who already started practicing in our locality. Before that, I used to play the role of a ball-boy during the matches of seniors. After I started practicing, I got a call from a famous football coaching centre called Dukhiram CC following a match against them in our place. They were interested in me for their IFA Nursery League team. I played for them and then for a club called Sahayatri in Howrah.
Then I went to Chandigarh with a U17 team, where a team represented Bengal as well. The famous ex footballer Tarun Dey was the coach of that team. He happened to be the coach of East Bengal U19 coach as well. He marked me there and brought me to East Bengal Club. I performed for them as a stopper and played in the second division I League for two consecutive seasons. We became runners up once.
Then I moved to Kolkata Premier League club Port Trust and played for Bengal in Santosh Trophy. Then joined Rainbow Sporting Club, Tollygunj Agaragami and Peerless Club. For Peerless, my performance, especially against three big clubs impressed some people of East Bengal Club and I got a call from them to join them. But for some issues, I couldn’t play for them and was released to play for Mohammedan Sporting.
But things didn’t go well there too. Because of injuries, I couldn’t play for them in the first season. In the second season, I played well and made the team champion in the second division I League. May be for that performance, I got a call from SC East Bengal and now got the opportunity to prove myself on the biggest platform. This is the result of my hard work and I am happy for this. But still there are lot of things to achieve.
What’s your message to the fans?
We miss you a lot in the stadiums. But please keep supporting us from home. We may have done some mistakes. But we need your support in this difficult time. Your support can motivate us to bounce back. We know that we are not in a good place. But if you keep being with us, we can come back to a better place. That’s all I have to say to our fans and supporters.