Thursday 30th January 2020
FOR most of the players on the New Bayview pitch on Saturday, it will be just another matchday.
The ready challenge of League One, played in surroundings they are all too familiar with, against players they’ve come up against fairly recently.
One of them, though, may find it slightly different to his last game of football.
Jai Quitongo doesn’t need any introduction to Scottish football. He’s done it as far as under-21 international level, and comes from a family already steeped in the game here.
But his most recent experience of football was thousands of miles from home, in the Iranian city of Tabriz, in the East Azerbaijan province.
The club was Machine Sazi, his most recent game was some time ago.
As different as it will be to that test, there’s nowhere he’d rather be than in a Dumbarton jersey to face East Fife at New Bayview on Saturday.
Speaking to www.dumbartonfootballclub.com, he said: “It was an experience to say the least! But I’m glad I did it.
“I appreciate things more and it’s matured me as a person, being away from my family in a country where I didn’t know anybody. I’m happy to be back.
“There’s not much difference between the standard there and the Championship. There are a lot of good players and some end up going to Turkey or Germany.
“It was just hard because I’m not used to the culture, but the quality of football was decent.
“I’m looking forward to it on Saturday – I’m absolutely raring to go. The boys are just focused on getting as many points posted as possible over the rest of the season.”
Signing for a former manager, which Jai has done in returning to work with Jim Duffy, is nothing new.
But he has also done something which not many footballers get the chance to do – he’s teamed up with his brother.
He and Rico, who has been with Sons all season, will be the first brothers to play for the club together this century. Identical twins Billy and Martin Melvin were the last in 1999.
And dad Jose of course played for the club in 2006, making the Quitongo first family since the Coyles – Tom, Owen and Joe – to turn out for Dumbarton, albeit not at the same time.
Jai added: “I’ve not played for eight months. I’d been training with a full-time club but that didn’t work out.
“The gaffer had been in touch to sign me and get me back playing. I’m delighted to sign for Dumbarton and hopefully I can get back into action.
“The move has been in the pipeline for about a couple of months. The manager said that if I couldn’t get a full-time offer, which I think anybody would rather get, he’d welcome the chance to sign me.
“I want to help the team as much as I can, play as much as I can and just get as many points as possible on the board and see where that takes us.
“I know most of the boys already from playing against them or as friends of friends. It’s a young team but everybody is hungry and everybody wants to do well.
“They’ve recently shown how well they can do up at Aberdeen in the cup, so if they can do that consistently they’re more than capable.
“And Rico being there will be a big help to each of us. It also means our parents don’t have to split themselves every Saturday, with mum going to one game and dad going to another.”