FC Pune City attacking midfielder Israil Gurung probably did not expect such a bright start to his campaign in the Indian Super League Season 2.
The 26-year-old winger proved exceptional for the Pune franchisee last evening, as he assisted two goals and got onto the scoresheet once, with Pune defeating Mumbai City FC by a 3-1 margin in their first match of the ISL this year. Gurung was awarded the ISL Emerging Player of the Match for his outstanding performance.
Gurung, a former I-League winner with Churchill Brothers and a Durand Cup winner with Mohammedan Sporting, started the game for David Platt's side yesterday. He made his performance count in every way possible, from the start to the finish.
Brilliant with his runs in the right flank, he got past experienced defenders with ease. He remained superlative as he delivered lethal crosses into the box. Gurung was possibly playing his best game in the FC Pune City shirt over the two seasons.
"I believe every player, among the 25 players in the squad, has a part to play [in the team]," Gurung was quoted by goal.com after the match. "So when you get your chance, you have to prove. This world is competitive and, in football, whoever plays well, they are in."
It was all too easy for Tuncay Sanli, the veteran from Turkey, as he headed home in the 12th minute and the 56th minute of the game, following incisive and pin-point crosses from Gurung.
Gurung got himself into the scoresheet in the 68th minute of the game as he delivered a superb cross inside the box, which deflected and got in -- awarding him the first goal of the tournament.
"It was a cross [third goal] but God is great. When you work hard obviously, you will get your reward. It was a cross and there was a deflection. I was lucky," Gurung said.
"I did what the coach told me to do. I did the job. It's not about having one striker to aim at. When the move is on, there it doesn't matter how many strikers are there in the box," he added.
The Pune City winger joined Portuguese outfit Vitória de Guimarães B only this year, following his performance in the ISL Season 1. However, Gurung could not be in action in any of the games as he underwent two surgeries after picking up injuries.
"I was very unlucky when I went to Portugal. I had my surgery and I was out for a month. My visa for Portugal was delayed. I didn't play any official games in Portugal but I saw that the level of football there is very advanced. They are professional and know how to take care of themselves," said Gurung.
The training Gurung had with the Portugese outfit has helped him no end. If this is how he performs after playing his first professional game in 11 months, much more can be expected from the Indian player in the games to come.