KATHMANDU, Jan 18: Though Mahindra Bansbari FC got relegated from the A division football league with two matches to spare on Tuesday, its custodian Ajeet Prajapati has got applauds from many for his impressive show in the tournament.
After the completion of 106 matches of the league, the 19-year-old youth despite coming up with ´extraordinary´ show paradoxically is also the custodian to concede highest number of goals.
Out of 40 goals conceded he was in charge of post while conceding 39 goals. He however, also holds the record for highest number of saves, according to Sanjiv Mishra, one of the match commissioner and the development director at ANFA.
Among 14 matches played by the team so far, he was included in starting line-up of 13 matches, until the team was relegated and played for full time in all matches other than against Nepal Army before being substituted in the 85th minute following minor injury. In the 14th match, the second choice goalie Kishor Giri was included in the starting line-up, but was replaced in the 64th minute following injuries.
The fresh graduate of 12th grade is known for his accuracy in diving at flying balls and his capability to judge attacks on goals. "Prajapati is an outstanding player," Bansbari coach Deepesh Yonjan Tamang, who took over the team after sixth round following sacking of coach Hari Om Shrestha, said.
Yonjan also rates Prajapati as the best goalkeeper of the league. "Among other things, he is smart in one-versus-one situations with the opponent, has good sense and time approach in air, ball reading capability in the six-yard box and smart in landing ," lauds coach Yonjan.
Yonjan is also optimistic that the national team might include Prajapati in the future. "Based on the performance they might include him either in the age-group or the senior national team," said the coach adding, "I am not saying this just because he belongs to my team but because he is extraordinary."
Regarding his conceding highest number of goals, Prajapati opines that he conceded some goals due to the weak defense lineup and some due to his own mistakes.
At the first glance, one might not believe that Prajapati which such a short height could be a custodian with such caliber. The 5´5" resident of Dudhpati, Bhaktapur, who was making his debut in the top tier football from current season sometimes feels that he could have acheived more had he been taller. A division league was in fact his first official tournament as he had not played any football at lower-level football organized by ANFA.
"While I was 13, I have vied for ANFA Academy selection. The selectors praised my performance but refused to select me owing to short height," said Prajapati who hold the bitter memory of his past.
Prajapati, the youngest of three brothers in his family was inspired by his elder brothers Sushan and Bishal to play football during his childhood. "I started playing football from the fourth grade," recalled Prajapati, "My brothers used to play football at a ground near our house and I followed their footsteps."
"My brothers played football at the local level only and currently both of them are working in film line," said. Prajapati adding both of his brothers inspired him to play football. "My elder brother Sushan, a cinematographer, bought football kits for me."
Prajapati also has a painful memory of his childhood as was deprived of dad´s love because he died when Prajapati was just 12. "My mother would always tell me not to play football but from last year she stopped saying that as she hs happy with my success," says Prajapati.
Prajapati caught Bansbari´s attention two years earlier while he went there to play a local-level match. He got registered at ANFA in the last edition of league from Bansbari but did not get chance to play in any match. But he remained unchallenged in the current season in the post.
Prajapati however, does not receive fixed amount of salary from the club. "The club has not signed contract with me but it provides me allowances," said Prajapati.
As his side relegates, Prajapati wishes to join a mid-table team for the next season so that he could get chance in the starting lineup. "I hope to get chance in the starting lineup in the mid table team of A division league in the next season as I think I have shown my mettle. My ultimate target is to joint the national league"