Goalkeepers in modern football have to be different: Mumbai City FC's Phurba Lachenpa
Phurba Lachenpa talks about his head coach, Des Buckingham, and his opinions on playing for Mumbai City FC.
Phurba Lachenpa has solidified his role as Mumbai City FC’s primary goalkeeper over the last three seasons. In a gripping semi-final match against FC Goa during the Indian Super League (ISL) 2020-21 season, Lachenpa made his ISL debut, stepping in just before the crucial penalty shootout to replace Amrinder Singh. Making his first appearance in those tense moments, Lachenpa stood firm, making multiple saves in the eventful penalty shootout that propelled his team to the final.
In a recent interview with Sportskeeda, Mumbai City FC's goalkeeper, Lachenpa, shared his experiences playing under Des Buckingham, reflecting on his journey from the Shillong Lajong FC days, and more.
The ISL 2022–23 League winners, Mumbai City FC, have carried their momentum into the current season, standing as the only side, alongside Mohun Bagan Super Giant and FC Goa, yet to lose any league games after Matchweek 6. With three wins and two draws, the Islanders currently hold the 4th position in the league table.
Commenting on their season's start, Lachenpa stated, “I think the season is going very well. We are in a very good place in the league. I had a tough start to the season. First, I had an eye infection and then received a red card. Now, I have to forget these bad incidents and focus on my training. Whenever I train, I always try to pick up small things that can be useful to me. I hope this season will be good for us.”
From Sergio Lobera to Buckingham, under whom Lachenpa has played in the ISL, both prefer possession football and aim to spend the most time on the ball. Lachenpa possesses the technique to receive the ball in tough conditions and the bravery to move and pass the ball, overcoming the opponent's threat.
In modern football, goalkeepers have evolved to act according to the match situation, acting as extra defenders at times to help their team enjoy more possession. With his anticipation skills and presence of mind, Lachenpa has excelled as one of the finest sweeper-keepers in Indian football, adapting to possession-based tactics.
“Being a sweeper-keeper is very important to me,” he said. “From the time I started playing professionally, I always wanted to be different. The thing is, if you put anyone in goal, he can block shots. But the goalkeeper in modern games has to be different.”
Lachenpa thanked his coach Buckingham for supporting him during challenging times. “His faith helped me a lot in gaining confidence. In this modern era, we need to analyze the game and not just make saves. Playing out or sweeping out from the back is important because it also gives our defenders a lot of confidence. I have learned a lot about sweeping-keeping from Oliver Kahn, Manuel Neuer, Marc-Andre Ter Stegen, and these days, Ederson.”
Reflecting on the relationship with the head coach, Lachenpa highlighted the positive atmosphere within the Mumbai City FC dressing room.
“Everyone's relationship with the coach is good,” he opined. “He is someone who always wants to come up to us and have a chat, be it after a training session or after a game. He has immense trust in us, and that is very important. That is the reason why we can showcase our best performances.”
“Even when we have ups and downs, we do not discourage each other in the dressing room. In the last game as well (against Punjab FC), we were 0-1 down at halftime but came back to score two goals and win it 2-1 in the second half. That showcases our mentality,” he added.
Before concluding the interview, Lachenpa expressed gratitude to all the Islanders who showed immense support for their beloved team through thick and thin. The 25-year-old shot-stopper also pledged to give his best to provide fans with reasons to enjoy themselves.
“The supporters have always been there for us,” he said. “I know that we have limited seats in the stands, but they have always filled them. The way they come and welcome us before the bus arrives gives us huge motivation. Hopefully, they can continue to be there throughout the season. We will give our best and try to bring joy to their (the supporters) lives,” he concluded.