NEROCA struggled a lot this season having taken only 19 points from the 17 games they played. They were just above the relegation spot. Aizawl FC were in the relegation spot having played 2 matches less than NEROCA. Although the All India Football Federation announced that no club will get relegated as the season couldn’t end because of the pandemic. Out of all negatives, Pritam Singh Ningthaujam was a positive for the team from Manipur. Without a doubt, He is NEROCA’s Indian player of the year. The 27 years old right winger just had his best season.
Let’s start from the beginning. Pritam is Mohun Bagan academy product. He then made a move far towards wast by singing for Sporting Goa. He could not get proper playing time there. It was followed by another not so successful stint with Mumbai Tigers. He moved back to Manipur and signed for NEROCA. Pritam was crucial part of the NEROCA team which won I League 2nd division. He scored 4 goals for them in the tournament.
NEROCA were promoted to I League next season. They were runner ups in their first season in the I League. They missed out on the title by 3 points. They also had a unbeaten streak of 9 games. Pritam appeared in 13 matches out of 18. He also scored a goal against Gokulam Kerala. But He came into limelight in the Super Cup. NEROCA were up against Kerala Blasters in Do or Die match. They were trailing by 2 goals before the NEROCA gaffer sent Pritam on the field. Pritam took no time to make an impact and scored one and created one goal. Match ended up in NEROCA’s favor. Pritam then moved to Gokulam Kerala in 2018. It wasn’t a great season for him. He again returned to NEROCA in the following season.
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NEROCA had made some impressive signings this season. Pritam was definitely one of them. He played first game of the I League season against Real Kashmir and marked it with a assist. NEROCA ended up winning the match. He also registered assists against Punjab FC, Churchill Brothers and the champions Mohun Bagan. In the second Manipur Derby, Pritam scored a hattrick. Pritam was too hot to handle that day. Another of his goal came against Gokulam Kerala.
Pritam plays on the right wing. But is so versatile that he has played on left wing, center forward and center attacking midfielder. Pritam is one of the best crosser in the I League. His whipped in balls were pinpoint. Pritam lacks in Physicality and isn’t a aerial threat but that weakness of his overshadowed by his lightening pace and dribbling skills. Pritam is a composed finisher as you can see his goals in the Derby. A winger who can cross as well as score is definitely a prospect for the National team.
Pritam had a brilliant I League season. He is the second highest Indian goalscorer in the I League and provided handful amount of assists as well. Scouts of other I League clubs and ISL clubs might have already figured out the possibilities of bringing Pritam to their clubs. It will be interesting to see where Pritam will play next season.