Manipuri lad Boithang Haokip has been one of the bright stars of Shillong Lajong FC this season. The 24-year-old midfielder has notched up five goals so far in the Airtel I-League – making him the third highest Indian goalscorer in the competition so far, behind Balwant Singh and topscorer Sunil Chhetri.
In a freewheeling chat with AIFF Media, Boithang shares how the season has fared for him, his development over the years, and the team he feels can lift the FIFA World Cup this year!
Boithang, you are the third highest goalscorer from India in the Airtel I-League at the moment. How much does that make you confident?
Oh surely it gives me a huge confidence as we approach the season end of the competition. This season has turned out good for me, day-by-day, match-by-match, my confidence has increased, and it has been a good experience so far. Also, I feel I can keep scoring many more goals.
Personally, how do you feel things have panned out this season for you?
It’s been really good as I’ve been scoring more this year, and I’m looking forward to continuing scoring.
I am also indebted to our Coach Thangboi Singto for the support he has given to us since last year. However, it’s not only the Coach, my teammates, colleagues and the entire staff at Shillong Lajong FC have been very helpful, and their support has helped me a lot in my development.
How is Thangboi Singto as a Coach?
It’s no doubt that he’s a spectacular mentor. He has been an integral part in my growth as a footballer, and has taught and guided me a lot.
How big a role have Lajong played in blooming you to become the footballer you are today?
Well, I’ve been here for six years, and that says a lot about my growth at Lajong. The Club have a very good understanding with me and vice-versa.
As a player when I first came here, I was nowhere near to a good footballer. However, I came under the tutelage of good Coaching Staff and picked up games gradually. Learning and experience – two words – that’s how I sum up all these years in the Club.
Again, not only was my improvement limited to on-the-field performances. The Club also taught me how to handle various situations and how to overcome pressure moments. All in all, it has been a real good ride at Shillong Lajong FC.
The Club is currently fifth in the Airtel I-League. Where do you think you will finish at in the end of the season?
Well, the last four years have been struggling for the Club, but this year I am very hopeful. The training and the preparations this year have been very different from the seasons before.
And I’m very hopeful that we’ll finish among the top 7 this season.
Any personal targets you have set for yourself?
As a player, everyone targets representing the National Team. I really wish and am also very hopeful that good days are here and hopefully I’ll get a call.
Any word on the on-growing fans and supporters of the Club?
Oh definitely, the fans are growing in numbers and that’s incredible. They have always been with us through thick and thin and have kept supporting us. A big thank you to all our supporters from Shillong and the North-East.
Who has been your footballing inspiration?
(Smiles) Dad, for sure. My dad was a footballer and he has always been my hero. I also am a follower of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. Both have very different styles and they are really good to watch!
Now since you’ve mentioned Messi and Ronaldo, who are you supporting in the upcoming FIFA World Cup?
(Laughs) I love the playing style of Spain. The players are designated to fixed positions before the start of play, but once the match starts, you see them swiftly occupy different positions in the field and that also so very well!
(Report & Picture courtesy AIFF Media