AN HOUR'S drive to the hills of Durtlang Leitan from Misson Veng in Aizawl, that's where TFG caught up with three Aizawl FC players out of which two of them were the gems of Mumbai FC that left the team along with head coach Khalid Jamil.
Ashutosh Mehta, Jayesh Rane and Albino Gomes appeared cool as cucumbers two nights before the crucial match they were about to play against Mohun Bagan, playing FIFA in their guest house on a hilltop.
And then the conversation began, sharing their experience from post Mumbai FC days to making Aizawl their home to the expectations from them on the big day, the trio spoke their heart out.
Talking about how difficult/easy their initial days post Mumbai FC, Ashutosh said,
"In the beginning it was very difficult, the move from Mumbai to Aizawl because it was decided that if he (Jayesh) goes then I go and vice versa. And finally we came to a conclusion that we both are going to Aizawl just because of the coach and well there is no other reason that was the only and main reason for our move. Initially it was difficult because of the weather, the food and everything else was very different from Mumbai so we had problems in the first two weeks. But then as the days progressed, the people here made us feel very comfortable and now it is good and we are enjoying."
Jayesh seconded what Ashutosh had to say. Ashutosh then spoke about how it feels to be part of Aizawl FC at the moment and had they pictured themselves playing for a team like Aizawl,
"Well, that's what I mentioned even earlier that we both had decided, it was more like a mutual call that no matter what if one of us is leaving then the other goes along."
He further added,
"We did have offers from other teams but just because of the coach we chose Aizawl and therefore we didn't have a second thought about it."
Jayesh talking on the present day at Aizawl, the feelings and thoughts,
"It's been a great journey of course, training hard, a hard working coach all of this feels really good to be in a position like this. So coming here and achieving something like this is a dream come true, not only for us but for the whole of Aizawl as they must have been waiting for this day."
"Not only us, actually Albino too. I personally called him to sign for the team because the coach had told me to that he wants Albino and he was supposed to sign somewhere else but we all convinced him and well you know the rest."
This then triggered the next question to Albino, on how has his journey been so far and how does it feel to play such an important role for a team as he has never been in a situation like this before.
"Of course it feels good because I haven't played I-League before as I started my career playing in the Indian Super League, I gained a little confidence while playing in ISL. And here the motivation and drive from coach Khalid made me do better and the trust and it feels good to be in a position like this as the first choice keeper as I was waiting for my opportunity."
Ashutosh and Jayesh then shared their thoughts on the current situation of their former team, Mumbai FC,
"We have grown as players, beginning our career at the junior level and then slowly climbing up to the main team and doing well. We have spent our whole life there. Of course it is disappointing to see them in such a state."
Jayesh spoke of the feeling of playing in Cooperage (home of Mumbai FC) in an opponent's kit,
"Very difficult for us because we've played our whole life there as a home team and suddenly next year you are part of the away team. But still, I guess there were no negative comments for us, they were only supporting their team. We had our families out there to support us and yes it was mixed emotions."
They then talk about coach Khalid's philosophies that have never changed from Mumbai FC to Aizawl FC days. They also share their thoughts on the love and support shown by the fans. Listen to all of that and more in the TFG interview podcast below:
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