Indian football giant, ATK Mohun Bagan came up with a spirited performance to hold former champion Chennaiyin FC for a goalless draw in the 2020-21 Indian Super League (ISL) on Tuesday. ATKMB’s goalkeeper, Arindam Bhattacharya, pulled off seven spectacular saves to help his side earn a draw.

As a result of his splendid performance, Arindam was adjudged the Man of the Match. Meanwhile, following the game and being awarded, he expressed his delight at his heroic performance, while he also dedicated the award to someone special.

“To me, the prize of being the best twice is equally glorious. We could not have become the champion if we had not beaten Chennaiyin in the final last year. And this time, we would not have reached the top of the league table if we did not keep our goal intact. It would have been better if we could win the match. We are not unhappy even in the draw. Our goal was to finish the year being at the top of the league table and we are successful in that,” he said.

“I am dedicating the award as the Man of the match to my mother, Antara Bhattacharya. Wednesday was my mother’s birthday. After coming back to the hotel on Tuesday night, I wished my mom and witnessed her birthday cake cutting in a video call. That time I told my mother I am not at home. I am sending you the Man of the Match prize as a gift from Goa. After my father died, my mother is my inspiration,” he added.

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“More than the personal award, I am happy being able to return to the dressing room with the target intact. On the way to becoming the champion last year, I have remained unbeaten in nine matches. This time, I aim to keep my goal intact in 12 out of 20 matches. I am still unbeaten in six out of eight matches. Just crossed the road halfway. There is still a long way to go,” he further reckoned.

Speaking on his saves, Arindam evaluated, “I didn’t notice how many goals I saved in the game against Chennaiyin. There is no special achievement in this. But, I saw on TV that I saved seven times. But, in my opinion, it was difficult to save the two balls floating in the air. I have caught the eye of many because I saved the goal yesterday. In fact, from behind, a goalkeeper must organize the defence in various ways as well. That is more difficult. Many do not understand that.”

However, Arindam was wary of the tough match, as he is looking forward to an even spirited performance against NorthEast United FC. “The Chennaiyin match was tough. Both teams have played tactical games. I don’t believe that we played poorly, as we couldn’t win. The team has given a better performance in this match than in all the previous matches. The coach’s instruction was to save your own goal and then, look for other goals. And, this happens in one or two matches in the league. It happened last year also. Our goal now is to win the North-East match at the beginning of the new year,” he concluded.