Pune, Jan 2 (IBNS) Pune FC custodian Abhra Mondal passed a huge psychological test of his playing career against Shillong Lajong FC during Round-13 of the I-League.
Having gone through the ordeal of nursing a cracked right shin that put him out of action, Abhra completed a sensational return at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium (Polo ground) eleven months later.
Victory for Pune FC was a first-ever feat, but for Abhra it was also about walking off with the Man-Of-The-Match honour which was quite in contrast to the last time he played in Shillong. It was, back on 28th January, 2012 Abhra unfortunately clashed with Eugeneson Lyngdoh and was stretchered off.
Since then much has changed. The Kolkata-born has recovered. Is back to playing ways and in fact, began his second stint against Sporting Clube Goa (27th November, 2012; Round-8 in Goa). However, it was Shillong that still remained vivid and a point to prove to himself.
"Before the match, all the while, including our trip to Shillong, the thought kept coming to my mind," Abhra explained after the game.
"I always had doubt in my mind and it was kind of building within. However, by figuring in the playing eleven in earlier rounds I had confidence."
Abhra added, "It was a question of going out on the pitch and ending the negative thought,"
"On arrival in Shillong, thoughts about the incident flashed in my mind. But once I held a couple of balls during practice I felt better... The rest completes my story."
Fact is, Abhra did run into Eugeneson in Shillong. "He (Eugeneson) asked me how I was. Said sorry once again to which I explained that it is part of the game... it could have happened to anyone... back then it was my bad day out."
On receiving the Man-of-the-Match, Abhra explained, "Out there I was trying to get as much confidence to myself. It was important for me. But once the game got going I realized all will be well."
With Pune FC securing victory, Abhra admits, "The match was tough for both. It's not easy for visiting sides to win in Shillong. The home team plays tough, the crowd turnout is strong... add the cold weather and one realizes that the the ones regularly play in these conditions can cope. Visiting teams are not used to all these factors.
While all round success remained the high-point of Pune FC's trip to Shillong, Abhra on his part felt, "My past memory has been wiped out and a look to progress to a new chapter in my life. Thank God."