THE BLOG BY CPD FOOTBALL | The World of Indian football and beyond by Chris Punnakkattu Daniel

Thongkhosiem Haokip – The Rising Star from Manipur

Thongkhosiem Haokip

Thongkhosiem Haokip, fondly known as “Semboi”, did enough to become the “Hero of the Match” in FC Goa’s 7-0 rout over Mumbai City FC in an Indian Super League (ISL) Season 2 clash at the Fatorda Stadium in Goa on Tuesday evening.

Haokip (34’, 52’, 79’) and Dudu Omagbemi (42’, 64’, 67’) scored more than just their first goals in FC Goa colours while Reinaldo (90’) scored his third in the 100th game of the tournament cumulatively from last year.

In addition, the six-foot-tall striker became the second FC Goa player to score the 100th goal in the ISL after Romeo Fernandes had achieved a similar feet in the inaugural edition of the competition.

He flicked on Jonatan Lucca’s pass to Dudu and ensured that his team-mate’s attempt that was rolling towards the goal line found the back of the net to break the deadlock against Mumbai City in the 34th minute, beat his marker in Darren O’Dea at the right post to tap in a well measured cross from the left by Jofre in the 52nd minute and completed his hat-trick by following up on the second ball with rival goalkeeper Subrata Paul already committed to effecting a save to block Romeo’s fierce shot at goal in the 79th minute.

Reserving his praises for Haokip after the match, FC Goa head coach Zico explained, “He (Haokip) is a very smart and technical player. He has great control during the match and it was seen today when he controlled the ball and gave a good pass to Dudu.”

“He always wants to learn as a player even after practice he asks me things and advice and always works a little bit more so it’s nice to see this quality in a player. And he always comes into practice with a good mood and this gives us the desire to teach him more and encourage him to do better. And I hope we can see him improve his football even better.”

Zico had also referred Haokip as an example for rest of the players before Tuesday’s clash and the player was himself elated after scoring his first hat-trick in the ISL.

“I did my best in today’s (Tuesday) game and so did the others and I don’t really know what he (Zico) feels about my performance but I’m happy we got the victory,” the soft-spoken Haokip voiced after the 7-0 result.

Adding his thoughts on Zico’s influence on his performance, he said, “Since I joined the club (FC Goa) for the pre-season, till today, he (Zico) helped me in all the areas of my game to improve in every game as it comes.”

These were Haokip’s first goals the ISL, all coming in his fourth appearance. However, frustration never got the better of the 22-year-old in the earlier three matches where he wasn’t able to score, as he commented, “I don’t think like that. Forme, I keep working hard and keep the focus on becoming better.”

The generally shy lad, who had joined the Pune FC Academy from United Sports Association in Manipur, was born in a village called Gangpijang and represented his state at the National Youth Games where he began budding as a footballer.

It may be recalled that Haokip was the first academy player to score a hat-trick for Pune FC against HAL SC in 2012. During his time at the academy, he helped his side to two back-to-back I-League Under-20 titles in 2012 and 2013 and thereon earned a promotion to the club’s senior team.He made 36 first team appearances in the I-League, scoring 11 goals in all and has also made three appearances for the Indian Under-23 side.

Semboi Haokip, who was drafted to play for FC Goa in the ISL Season 2, was the I-League 2014/15’s highest Indian goal scorer with 7 goals from 18 appearances including a memorable hat-trick against Shillong Lajong FC that he completed within 15 minutes and which was also the first hat-trick of the season.