There is only one thing on Baljit Singh Sahni’s mind - goals. So much so that after only 15 days of training following a two-and-a-half-month layoff, he asked JCT coach Parminder Singh to field him against Sporting Clube de Goa in their 12th round I-League match on Thursday.
Sahni was seriously injured in a motorbike accident while riding pillion to teammate Sunil Thakur in Goa on November 10, 2009. That was three days before JCT’s eighth round match against Salgaocar. “I knew I could last at least 45 minutes so I asked the coach to consider me,” said Sahni on Saturday over the phone from Ludhiana.
Sahni reposed Parminder’s faith in him with a goal on Thursday, taking his tally to seven from eight matches. That’s a conversion rate almost as good as Subair Muritala Ali’s, the third I-League’s highest scorer with 10 goals from 11 matches.
“I suffered serious head and wrist injuries in that accident. I needed 35 stitches. When I gained consciousness after the accident, I was wondering why it had to happen to me at that juncture,” said Sahni, who scored this I-League’s first hattrick, against Lajong FC.
That injury delayed - hopefully temporarily - Sahni’s rise in the national scene. He was scheduled to attend the month-long national camp in Goa after the Salgaocar match. “We definitely missed him at the camp,” said Sukhwinder Singh, head coach of the under-23 India team. “When I was coaching JCT, we pushed him up to the striker’s position from the left-half not only because we needed one but also since he has the makings of a quality striker.”
“Sahni has scored from every position possible. That he has been so prolific in the I-League playing fewer matches is definitely a good sign for India,” Singh said. With the AFC Challenge Cup coming up in Sri Lanka, Sahni is raring to make his presence felt.