Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Former HAL players Rajabaliev Nurlan and Kanatbek Mamatov visit Bangalore with Kyrgyz National football team

If you are from the era of HAL-ITI rivalry and followed Bangalore football, then you should remember names like Rajabaliev Nurlan, Kanatbek Mamatov, Ruslan Sydvov, and Daniar, players from Kyrgyzstan who plied their trade for HAL. They played the then National Football League (NFL), erstwhile I-League in Green colors in 2001-02 season. 

Kanatbek and Nurlan are visiting the Garden City when India take on Kyrgyzstan tomorrow 8 pm for AFC Asian Cup Qualifier at Sree Kanterava Stadium. They are serving the Football Federation of the Kyrgyz Republic (FFKR) as the Vice President and Head of the Players Transfer Committee respectively. 

Speaking to GCSStars.com, Kanatbek, a dependable central midfielder back then was on a trip down memory lane. He remembers Coach Krishnaji Rao, wanted to meet him, however, saddened after hearing that Krishnaji not in the best of health, and confined at home. 

Kanatbek fondly recall the good time he spent his teammates at HAL - Gumpe Rime, Sunil, Kiran, Xavier Vijay Kumar, late Dayanand, so on. 

It was the season of 2000-01, HAL was playing the NFL qualifiers when Kanatbek Mamatov, a student pursuing Master’s Degree in Environment from the Bangalore University joined HAL, and helped them to qualify for to the top league for the first time. 

“After qualifying for National League my coach asked me to get some players from Kyrgyzstan”, reveals Kanatbek. Next season he got the rest of the gang from his homeland.

“We had a great start to the League, playing for the first time in NFL, we defeated East Bengal, Mohun Bagan, Salgaocar. After the first leg, we’re sitting comfortably at top half of the points table”, adds Rajabaliev Nurlan, who scored 7 of the goals for HAL, he was the 6th top scorer in that edition. 

The Kyrgyz hold utmost respect for Krishnaji Rao, was later replaced by Chandru, and results started dwindling. HAL finished the season in 8th spot in a 12-team league. Also, Rajabaliev’s injury affected HAL in the league. 

“We could have fared much better had Krishnaji coached us for the entire season”, expressed both of them. 

They did not pursue football as a career, must have played for more seasons, and then settled in other profession. It was only later they felt the urge to give back to the game and joined football administration. The other Kyrgyz, Ruslan Sydvov, is the coach of country’s top Futsal team. 

Nostalgia has gripped them as they spent time at their favorite HAL Sports Complex exploring fond memories of playing days. Meanwhile Rajabaliev is desperately looking for video grabs of his goals.