W Tomba voted footballer of the year
Source: The Sangai Express

Imphal, January 10: Midfielder Wangkheirakpam Tomba Singh has won the All India Football Federation's player of the year award.

The 21-year-old star player of Salgaocar played a key role when the Goans upset National Football League champions East Bengal to win the Durand Cup in November.

He was also instrumental in Salgaocar finishing runners-up in the last National Football League.

Announcing this on the concluding day of the Vision India conference, AIFF president Priyaranjan Dasmunsi said that India will play two friendly matches (home and away) against Pakistan.

The dates for the matches will be worked out soon by the two associations.

He also said that a new women's National Football League will kick-off next year.

Talking to the Sangai Express from Goa today, Tomba acknowledging announcement of the award said out of four nominations one also belonged to Manipur - P Rennedy (Mohun Bagan).

The other two are Mahesh Gowli (East Bengal) and Climax Lawrence.

A mixture of jubilation and surprise descended upon the player hailing from Nongmeibung Wangkheirakpam Leikai of Imphal East district when his Salgoacar coach conveyed the selection to Tomba today morning, said the player.

On being asked which competition might have resulted in the AIFF voting Tomba for the prestigious award he cited his contribution to the national team in the inaugural Afro Asian Games at Hyderabad where India finished runners-up besides performances at the Durand Cup in November and at the NFL last year.

Despite being selected in the Indian squad for the qualifying matches of the world Cup uncertainty still hangs over his participation due to injury, said Tomba keeping faith in the almighty for speedy recovery.

Mention may be made that Tomba Singh not only played a pivotal role in Manipur's exilarating performance during the November, 2002 Santosh Trophy competition held at Imphal but also provided the prestigious trophy for the time ever with his perfect on the run volley for the decisive goal in the 2-1 defeat of defending champion Kerala in the final match.

Tomba was also awarded the most valuable player of the match.

Born to Wangkheirakpam Bihari and Ashangbi Devi, Tomba began his footballing career with YWC, Thambalkhong in the junior level before his steep climb to the senior division.

After donning colours of ESU, Wangkhei and USA, Khurai Tomba also played a major role in the State team lifting the Under-19 national Football championship held at Imphal where the hosts defeated Sikkim 4-1 in the final.

Catching the eye of talent hunters at the Under-19 championship Tomba started playing for Air India since 1998 before moving to Goan giants Salgaocar where he is currently playing.

Stating that five players from native State are currently playing for Salgaocar, Tomba exulted at the fact that in almost every major club of the country atleast one player of Manipur is included.

To a question, he bloated that if all the players of Manipur scattered throughout the country are convinced to play as a unit with minimal financial security no Indian club team would be fit enough to challenge its might.

Disclosing his worth at Salgaocar Tomba said for his two year contract he gets Rs nine lakhs.

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