The 26-year-old was grateful of his teammates and the coach for standing by his side throughout.
“I saw him coming from the behind the defender. He wouldn’t have been able to shoot and so I shouted, ‘machaaaa’ at the top of my voice. (Alexander) Romario knew I was there at the edge of the box. His touch just set it up perfectly for me. I didn’t have time to take a second touch. I’d faith in my left leg,” explained Redeem Tlang on scoring his first goal for FC Goa after months of waiting in the ‘wings.’
“I didn’t make the early run as (Saviour) Gama had taken up an advanced position. So when Seriton (Fernandes) put the ball in, I was waiting at the edge of the box. I meant to hit that shot exactly where it went.”
It has been a long time coming for Redeem Tlang. The winger saw red in his very first start for FC Goa against Mumbai City FC – the second game of the season. The 26-year-old has had to wait patiently ever since for an opportunity to impress the gaffer. That opportunity finally came in the Gaurs’ last game in the Bengaluru FC, with a place in the final four of the Hero Indian Super League at stake.
Since his last start in the FC Goa colours, the Gaurs had gone on an 11-game unbeaten run which proved to all and sundry that even in a year of a rebuild, this was a team to be reckoned with.
And on Sunday, the former NorthEast man showed why he was one of the most coveted signings this offseason and still remains one of the names to be reckoned with as well.
The man in the number 22 shirt for FC Goa was worth his weight in gold on the wings on Sunday night for the Gaurs. Filling in for the injured Jorge Ortiz was never going to be an easy task, but with him rampaging down the wings (the left side mostly), he did as well as anyone could have – stepping into the shoes of one of the names that have taken the ISL by storm this season.
“It is tough, being on the bench. It’s not a good feeling, but you just have to fight on. There is no other way I know. It’s mentally tasking, especially this year with the bio-bubble. It’s difficult sometimes to move away from it all because it’s always a bit ‘in your face’ kind of situation,” explained the winger.
“The team, though, has always been by my side and the coach has always encouraged me to get better every day. It was a big game and I am happy that I was able to show what I am capable of.”
While the goal stole the show for Redeem, his overall play didn’t go unnoticed. Always available on the wings, the game saw him drop deep time and again to help the full-backs as well – giving us a glimpse of the man that the Gaurs chased with much vigour during the offseason.
With the league having already taken a step into the homestretch, every single little point, moment, goal or piece of good news is most welcome for all teams. And Redeem Tlang hitting his stride certainly bodes well for Juan Ferrando and FC Goa.
With a practical quarterfinal coming up against the youthful exuberance of Hyderabad, Redeem Tlang will be hoping to continue his recent vein of form against the yellow and blacks. The match will kick off on Sunday, 28th February at 5 PM at Fatorda.