Back home, Mumbai FC’s Pratik Chaudhari says he is thriving under Khalid Jamil’s faith

Mumbai FC have been enjoying home comforts for the last two games in the Hero I-League and that’s set to continue for one more game as Bengaluru FC come calling to Cooperage on Wednesday. Having suffered just two defeats at home since returning to Cooperage at the start of last season, visiting teams have rarely enjoyed a trip to the city of dreams.
Similar thing can be said about Mumbai FC’s new warrior at center back Pratik Choudhary who has thrived after his homecoming after spending two seasons away from Mumbai. The defender has earned a starting spot and center back in Khalid Jamil’s side and has since impressed in every game of the season.
Football Counter caught up with the towering center back as he expressed his delight on returning to Mumbai, before giving details about his battle with Ranti Martins and concluding the conversation sharing his thoughts about Khalid Jamil and his ability to groom young players.
Here are the Excerpts
You returned to Mumbai after two years. How does it feel to be back in your own city?
PC: It’s great to be back in Mumbai and be back living with your family. It is always a different feeling when you play for your hometown club. I always wanted to play for Mumbai FC and now that I’m here I feel this is my own team, my own club. I’m very much at home here.
Apart from playing in Mumbai, was there anything else that prompted you to sign for Mumbai FC?
PC: I desperately wanted to play. Last year, I couldn’t play an I-League game with Mohun Bagan as the team was winning and the coach didn’t want to change the winning combination. So when Khalid Jamil expressed the desire to sign me, I immediately decided to join Mumbai FC as it was important for me to play games.
Since you have joined, you have formed a great partnership with Min Chol Son. Can you tell us something about Min Chol that you admire already?
PC: There are a lot of things. I feel he is a very experienced defender. He is very calm, never shouts, never abuses, he is very professional. He guides me well and I feel now we have started to understand each other really well. So it’s good to play alongside him.
Recently, you faced Ranti Martins. There was a great battle on the pitch between you and him throughout the game. Can you share a few details of how you managed to shackle him?
PC: Facing Ranti is always tough and it was no different this time. We had planned a few things to stop him and I feel we executed that well. Personally, I knew his game very well since we played together at Rangdajeid United two years ago. I knew what was coming and I was prepared well for it.
Khalid Jamil is known to groom young players. Many top defenders like Sandesh Jhingan and Anas Edathodika trained under him in the past. What is it about Khalid Jamil that he is able to groom young players well?
PC: The one thing I can certainly say is that he puts full faith in a player. If he sees something in a player, he will support him through his good and bad periods. That’s what he has done with me. He has been giving me great confidence and I feel he has always done that in the past as well. I’m always focused, but even then he will make sure that I will never lose my focus and keep on working hard. This is the reason I feel young players thrive under him.
Does your family come to watch your matches at Cooperage?
PC: They haven’t yet, but mostly next game my parents and my uncle would be coming to watch the match. I am the only sportsman in my family so this is new to them.
Two clean sheets already in this season, how many more to come?
PC: As many as I can. Whenever I go out on the pitch, I always give my best and we have a very good team. So I feel there will be more to come, hopefully there are many more ahead.