The winger is one of the best emerging talents in the Indian football circuit.
TRAU FC might be one of the new entrants to the I-League, but they have gotten hold of one of the most promising talents of Manipur. Ngangbam Naocha Singh might not be as talked about as some of the other Indian attacking talents, but the lad has gradually cemented his spot in the first-team at the club.
His association with TRAU over the span of the last three years or so has blossomed seamlessly and it wouldn’t be unfair to claim that both he and the club have progressed simultaneously in this time period. It wouldn’t have been so if Naocha was not scouted by the club’s secretary T. Phulen Meitei.
Name: Ngangbam Naocha Singh
Height: 178 cm
Date of Birth: 11 August, 2000
Ngangbam Naocha Singh has represented several clubs in the state’s Super Division Football League. However, he was a part of the Northern Crown Club Khonghampat when he was scouted by Meitei for TRAU FC. His exploits in the competitions including the Super Division had earned the forward a place in Manipur’s Santosh Trophy Team in 2017-18. Whilst the side couldn’t progress to the semi-finals, Naocha scored four goals in six matches to emerge as one of the prominent forward talents from the region.
It was around this time that TRAU were preparing for the I-League Second Division and they spotted the Manipur state team’s players undergoing rigorous training sessions for the Santosh Trophy. The club requested the All Manipur Football Association to organize a friendly game with them. It was in this particular match that TRAU’s secretary found Naocha to be a worthy prospect in whom they could invest.
From thereon, he was lured to the club and even presented with the opportunity to captain TRAU’s U-18 team in 2018. In Meitei’s own words, Naocha’s best outing in that age-group was in the Manipuri Derby. The team was facing NEROCA’s U-18 side and the attacker rose to the occasion to bag a brace and secure a thumping 4-2 victory for his team.
Infact, his performances in that campaign grew so significantly that it reflected in the state’s prestigious CC Meet competition too. In the 61st edition of the Sir Churachand Singh KCSI, CBE Memorial Football Tournament, Ngangbam Naocha Singh was named as the Best Young Player of the Tournament.
In the 2017-18 season, Naocha represented TRAU in 10 matches in the I-League Second Division. Naocha scored five goals in these ten encounters altogether, which also included a brace against Shillong-based Langsning FC and a goal against Mohammedan SC. Moreover, he even managed to get on the scoresheet against Jamshedpur FC’s reserve team.
However, some lackluster outings in the crucial final stages meant that Real Kashmir bypassed TRAU to gain promotion to the I-League. Nevertheless, the Manipuri club won the title next time around in 2018-19 and Naocha had a key role to play in that. His goal contributions reduced as he notched three goals from 14 games.
However, this included a decisive strike against the reserve team of ATK in the group stages. Infact, Naocha also struck two goals in six matches in the playoffs. The forward registered strikes against the likes of Lonestar Kashmir and Aizwal-based Chhinga Veng FC later on, which propelled his club towards the title.
In the 2019-20 I-League campaign, the young forward was used rather sporadically, maybe to carefully transition him to the higher level of football. On an average, the emerging star played only 41 minutes in the 12 games that he came on the field for. He was mostly used as an impact substitute or to add some fresh legs in the later stages of the games.
Yet, Naocha managed to score a goal each against NEROCA and Indian Arrows. Interestingly, these were two out of the only three encounters this season in which he played the entire duration of the match. Maybe, it was an indication that the starlet would flourish if provided with sizable opportunities to do so.
“Every player is unique. But, Naocha is faster than some of the fastest players in Indian football,” says Phulen Meitei, secretary of TRAU FC. Undoubtedly, the lad has pace to burn and pierces through defensive lines with his sprints. Naocha has a relatively good goalscoring record for an outright winger, but he is capable of playing across the frontline too.
He can also be deployed in deeper roles if necessary. This highlights that versatility is one of his positive attributes. The 19-year-old can deliver a mean cross from the flank and regularly shifts inward whenever he sniffs an opportunity to put the ball in the back of the net.
Aspects to Improve
At times, Naocha tends to hold on to the ball for longer than required and appears to be reluctant to release a decisive pass in the final third. For a player of his caliber, he could possibly be delivering more assists too. Inconsistency creeps into his game on occasions and the way in which he tackles it in addition to improving his efficiency and decision-making, would largely determine the steps that he takes in his career going forward.
Meitei believes that Ngangbam Naocha Singh’s playing style has shades of Udanta Singh. His ability to score goals on a regular basis and make impressive runs from the right wing showcase that the young boy can be honed to become a fantastic forward from the flank.
With regards to his future, TRAU have very carefully tracked his progress and they look determined to ease him into the tougher levels of football as time progresses. It would arguably be in the best interests of the player if he decides to stay put at the club and develop into a well-rounded winger instead of making a hasty move elsewhere.