While the Indian Super League has worked wonders for some Indian players – for others it has opened up a portal where lack of first team opportunities is a common scenario. Mumbai City FC’s Raju Gaikwad is one such Indian player who has suffered the backdrop of foreign players. A rock solid defender for East Bengal and India, Raju Gaikwad has been sidelined by the defensive duo of Pavel Cmvos and Manuel Freidrich. In his two appearances for the Ranbir Kapoor co-owned franchisee, Gaikwad has been played out of position and performances have been uncanny and rusty. Talking to TheHardTackle, Raju Gaikwad, dubbed as ‘The Iceberg’ by fans, expresses his disappointment.
“I’m not upset, I’m just a tad but disappointed as I could have and should have been given more opportunities to justify the reason as to why I was touted as one of the best Center Backs in the country”
“Yes I have been played out of position. On the contrary, I get an opportunity to work out of my comfort zone, that too at the highest level. But undoubtedly, I would have loved to play as a Center Back.
Although Raju is disappointed over lack of first team opportunities, the East Bengal defender relishes life under the guidance of Peter Reid and Steve Darby and believes that they have helped him evolve, as a player.
“The coaches have been excellent. We are working with coaches who have great experience and the training sessions are very productive, which has led to broaden our perspective as a footballer” adds Raju.
When asked about his relationship with former Borussia Dortmund defender Manuel Friedrich, Raju says, “I’m glad to partner and train with such a world-class defender”
Mumbai City FC meanwhile reel at seventh position of the Indian Super League table and face NorthEast United in their next encounter. Although Mumbai City FC have been already been considered ‘out’ by some fans, there still remains a tiny glimmer of hope. The Peter Reid managed side has to win against NorthEast United and hope that other results go their way.
“Its not over until it is actually over. We never had lady luck on our side. Yes, We could have defended better at times. Nonetheless, all the boys give their cent percent in matches, be it a 5-0 win or a 3-0 defeat.”
Action continues to elude Raju Gaikwad, but the defender has relished life in the Super League and understands that the experience so far has been beautiful.
“The experience has been very good. I am getting to learn new aspects of the game everyday. Though on a personal level I would have loved to be in the playing XI. But, nonetheless the experience has been wonderful”