In the first Kolkata football derby of the recently concluded I-League, East Bengal found themselves trailing against arch rivals Mohun Bagan till the fourth quarter of the game. The Red and Golds were struggling in the attacking third and worse, they were failing to offer any resistance to the ongoing attack from their opposition. The mood on the ground perfectly reflected the stands of the iconic Salt Lake stadium as pin-drop silence prevailed amongst the East Bengal fans who were watching their favourite team succumbing to their third consecutive lost.
On came a 20-year-old boy, Edmund Lalrindika. The lanky Mizo stepped into the field and immediately changed the flow of the match with. He showed a first glimpse of his calibre by taking a perfect goal directed corner. Though it didn’t turn end up going into the goal but that close attempt was enough to spur East Bengal on and bring back the fighting spirit.
Even the fans got charged up when the youngster motioned them to “cheer louder and make some noise”. It worked. In the 72nd minute of the game, East Bengal clawed back, scoring their first goal of the game. A terrific, defence-splitting through pass from Edmund, who had joined the Kolkata giants on a loan move from Bengaluru FC, found Marcos Jimenez de La Espad in acres of space, one-on-one with the goalkeeper. The Spanish forward complied with the easiest of finishes. As Marcus ran towards Edmund to celebrate the equaliser, the vociferous East Bengal fans also realised that they have found a new favourite in a very short time.
The Bridge takes a look at the promising forward as a part of the “India’s Next Gen”, a segment exclusively dedicated to Indian football’s top young talents to watch out for in 2020.
“It was an experience of another world to play for East Bengal. Though I have not been able to play too many games but the ambiance the fans provide here is amazing,” said Edmund when asked about his experience playing for one of the Kolkata giants.
The AIFF elite academy graduate joined the Bengaluru FC reserves in 2017-18 and thereafter was called up for a stint with the Indian Arrows. At the Arrows, he enjoyed a decent season, as he spent time getting accustomed to the physical demands of senior football. After his return from the Arrows, Edmund was named in the Bengaluru FC squad for the Indian Super League (ISL). While he did turn out for the Blues in the ISL and AFC competition, his best performance came in the BDFA Super League, where he has been the highest goal scorer for the last two seasons.
Edmund has always been a player with terrific attacking skills and his positive attitude on the field further amplifies his capabilities. Talking about his playing stylel, the youngster reveals, “I always try to penetrate the defence and try to score and assist as many as I can as I always love to move with the ball. For me, one minute is enough to turn a game up table so I try to score goals till the last minute of the game irrespective of the score line.”
Coming from a technically superior setup like Bengaluru FC, Lalrindika took little time in adapting with the East Bengal setup. He said, “Both the coaches being Spanish, the style of play was similar and it was easier for me to fit in and adapt faster”.
“I didn’t have a very good season due to my injuries but I still learned a lot form this harsh time. This situation taught me how to stay positive and overcome all obstacles,” said Edmund. “I am working harder on my fitness as I really want to grab more and more game time. Like every player, it's also a dream for me to get into the national team and as you know the harder I work, the more chances I will get. So, at this moment, my sole goal is to bring out my best whenever I am given a chance,” he concluded.
Given the massive competition for the spot of winger and number nine in the national team, the desire for hard work that Edmund has expressed will surely increase his chances to gain his foothold in Indian football.