Pune FC Season Awards: Keita Mandjou named 'Player of the Year'
Guinean striker Keita Mandjou was adjudged ‘Pune FC Player Of The Year 2010-11’ and with it carried forward the trend of foreign players walking tall in their debut year for the club.
Thirty one-year-old Kieta in company of attacking midfielder Lester Fernandez stood out at the glittering Pune FC’s Award Night held on Friday night as they grabbed two awards respectively. This was the second year of the awards instituted by the city’s only professional football club.
The function held at Hotel Vits, situated within the Balewadi Sports Complex precinct, saw Keita receive a glittering trophy and a cash-incentive of Rs 2.0 lakh. Keita is one of the two new foreign players signed this season and his 11-goal effort in the on-going league (PFC has one round left this season) was an important reason in end analysis.
“I thank God and my family for all their support. Thank you Pune FC for the honour,” was his modest address to the gathering after Pune FC directors Rajeev, Nandan and Harsh Piramal handed over his award.
The other award that went Keita’s way was the ‘Players’ Player Award,’ an award nominated by the entire Pune FC senior team (I-League) squad. The award carried a Rs 1 lakh cash incentive and was presented by India’s and Pune FC’s first choice goalkeeper Subrata Paul.
In a total of 10 awards (six for the seniors and four for the juniors) given away at the gala, Bangalore-born Lester Fernandez was handed the ‘Goal of the Year’ and was also voted ‘Fans’ Player of the Year’.
Lester, like Keita, was signed this year and his strike against Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) Bangalore in Round-23 was voted best. The goal, incidentally, was Lester’s first in Pune FC colours and coincidentally netted it in his home town.
Pune FC coach Derrick Pereira and local-boy Mayur Karanjkar, who was shortlisted from a 23,900-odd Pune FC fan base on Facebook, gave away the prizes respectively
The ‘Best Under-23 Player’ award went to Punjab-born Gurjinder Kumar, who like Keita and Lester joined the Pune FC this season. The left wing back was richer by Rs 1 lakh and received the honours from Pune FC directors Harsh Mehta and Kunal Chandra.
Defender Selwyn Fernandes claimed the ‘Man of Steel,’ which is an award given to the player with the maximum minutes played for the Pune FC seniors in the Federation Cup and I-League.
The Goan, who is playing his third year for the club, had a staggering 2324 playing minutes to his name having turned out in 24 full games, was substituted once and missed two matches due to double bookings!
This year, Pune FC included another first to their awards by acknowledging the junior players’ efforts as well. Pune FC Head of Operations Chirag Tanna said, “The awards was needed and it was necessary to showcase their efforts to enhance motivation at the junior level.”
In the Under-19 section, David Lalbiakzara, who hails from Mizoram, and joined the Pune FC fold in February this year was adjudged ‘Best Player (Under-19)’ and received his award by Head Coach (Youths) Norbert Gonsalves.
Goa’s Vellington Rocha, a second-year player at the club, was handed the ‘Best Disciplined Player’ award by Pune FC Head of Youth Development, Ranjan Choudhury.
The ‘Best Under-17 Player’ award went to defensive midfielder Riyan Yadgiri, while the Rushab Dhere claimed the ‘Best Under-15 Player.’ Both Riyan and Rushab are city players, skippered their respective teams this season and are in their second year with the club. Assistant Coach (Youths) Gift Raikhan and Manager (Youths) Amit Dharap gave away the awards respectively.
All junior awards carried a cash award of Rs 20,000 apart from a trophy.
At the conclusion of the function, which was peppered by a recap of all activity Pune FC had conducted on and off the pitch including and a solo act by PFC Assistant Coach (Youths) Gift Raikhan, Chirag Tanna spoke on the next big thing at Pune FC – the Peninsula Pune Football Club Academy.
Best Player of the Year: Mandjou Keita
Best Under-23 Player: Gurjinder Kumar
Goal of the Year: Lester Fernandez
Players’ Player: Mandjou Keita
Fans’ Player of the Year: Lester Fernandez
Man of Steel: Selwyn Fernandes
Best Player Under-19: David Lalbiazara
Best-Disciplined Under-19 Player: Vellington Rocha
Best Under-17 Player: Riyan Yadgiri
Best Under-15 player: Rushab Dhere