If you follow Indian football closely, you would surely know the name Phrangki Buam. The star from Meghalaya set the big stage of the I-League 2018-19 on fire by scoring six goals when he was just 18 years old. Since then, even though he hasn’t been on the biggest stage, he scored 24 goals (Shillong Premier League and Meghalaya State League) in 2019 to end as Shillong Lajong‘s highest scorer of the year.
It was THAT I-League season though that got the big guns interested in the boy from Jaintia Hills in Meghalaya. News18.com has learnt that FC Goa first got in touch with Buam after that season despite Lajong being relegated but since he had two more years of contract with the Shillong club, the deal couldn’t go through. This year, however, Goa succeeded in acquiring his services for an undisclosed transfer fee.
It wasn’t just Goa who wanted Buam, the Khasi boy liked them as much. “Since the start of ISL, I always admired FC Goa and hoped I would play for them one day,” he told News18.com in an exclusive interview. “I like the way Goa play, a lot of passing football, it’s my dream come true to join them.”
Buam is a true blue No.10 but can fill in a variety of attacking positions. However, FC Goa have plenty of options in their attack – Igor Angulo, Jorge Ortiz, Alberto Noguera, Redeem Tlang, Brandon Fernandes, Edu Bedia to name a few. Buam knows he has a fight on his hands. “I will fight for my position but if needed, I can play as a winger also. I will give my best, my 100 per cent, and fight to get into the team. I am not scared by the thought of competing in the big league. I want to be there and even when I go there, I have to be confident and do my best,” he said.
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Buam has not been intimated about the pre-season dates yet and he is yet to be informed about the coronavirus tests as well even though he is well aware that he will have to undergo one before leaving for Goa. Apart from a short stint with FC Bengaluru United in the I-League second division last year, Buam has never been out of Meghalaya and he is excited.
“For me to play outside the state, it’s a dream. I am really excited and I can’t wait to start. Especially in Goa, it is such a nice place and I can’t wait to get going. As a footballer, you have to adjust and I think slowly, I will adjust to the place and people there. I think I should be comfortable,” he expressed.
Of course, the fact that he has fellow Khasis in Redeem and Aiban Dohling there helps. He has played with both of them at Shillong Lajong, even though he is closer to Redeem and has even spoken to him as both of them prepare for Goa. Redeem also secured his move from NorthEast United FC to the Goan club this transfer season.
“I am very happy to be playing with Redeem again. He’s a talented player and very hard working and I am very happy to get the chance to play alongside him again. We played together at Shillong Lajong and then we have signed together for FC Goa, so that makes me happy. I feel very comfortable knowing the fact that Redeem is going to be there as well. I spoke to him and he said ‘if you want to play there, you have to be confident.’ He said he feels FC Goa is a good move for me and I can prove myself there. He also said I need to be working hard and be confident,” Buam shared.
At just 19 years of age, Buam shows a great sense of what he needs to do in order to be consistent. He shared his Lajong experience and how he stayed focussed despite the massive ups and downs.
“I was very happy when I came to know I was going to get to play in the I-League and then, I told myself that I have to do well and score goals. I hoped other clubs would look at me and it will be good for me and I just gave my 100 per cent in every game,” he recalled.
However, despite having a great season personally, Lajong were relegated and Buam says it was “very difficult”. Buam then played the Shillong Premier League and Meghalaya State League for Lajong and ended up as the top scorer in both those tournaments. “I just tried to stay focused and do well with whatever opportunity I had and hoped other clubs will come calling.”
He did get his next opportunity with Bengaluru United, whom he helped qualify for the final round of the I-League. The team is set to play in the I-League qualifiers in Kolkata next month and if they win, they will make it into the I-League, something that Buam hopes for them.
“When I reached Bengaluru, I had very little time before the start of the tournament and so, it was very difficult to adjust. In Shillong, the weather was cold and in Bengaluru, it was hot. And then I had a match immediately so, it took me time to understand my teammates there as well. I just tried to adjust and do well. It took me a couple of matches to get comfortable,” he said.
Buam is extremely young and the prospects for him are abundant. It remains to be seen whether FC Goa would play him in the first team this season or loan him out to give him some game time. Their coach Juan Ferrando would surely keep an eye on him in the pre-season and like Manvir Singh for Sergio Lobera, Buam can even be an impact substitute.