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    Default Abhra: An unlikely hero

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    A new trend in Indian football seems to be that goalkeepers come out of penalty shootouts as new heroes.

    And East Bengal's Abhra Mondal is the latest addition to this ever growing list. At the Nehru Cup in August 2009 our No. 1 Indian goalkeeper Subrata Pal gave India the title against Syria. This was followed-up by India Under-23 goalkeeper Arindam Bhattacharya at the 2009 SAFF Cup last month when our India U-23 beat defending champions Maldives after another penalty shootout.

    On Sunday evening, it was young Abhra Mondal in the East Bengal goal saving all three Lajong penalties to give the red-and-gold the title.

    And what a turn around it has been for Abhra. At the start of the season many said East Bengal shouldn't have released Subrata Pal and they would get problems with their goalkeeper line-up of Abhra Mondal, Arup Debnath, Avijit Ghosh and Priyant Kumar Singh. A young talented group of keepers, but maybe not fully ready for the big league.

    And this initially proved to be right as their earlier coach Subhas Bhowmick as well as Philippe de Ridder tested all the four keepers before de Ridder picked Abhra as his No. 1.

    The low point for Abhra Mondal surely was the 3-5 defeat against Mohun Bagan were the 23 year old keeper conceded all the five goals.

    Many questions were asked thereafter, but Abhra continued to work hard and it has now paid off.

    East Bengal didn't concede a single goal during the course of the tournament, a rare feat especially with Abhra keeping a clean slate in the penalty shootout against Lajong too.

    India surely have no problems with goalkeepers at the moment.


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