Tag: pritam kotal

AIFF Academy provides the supply line to national team: Pronoy

MUMBAI, JUNE 2, 2018: A day after Indian Coach Stephen Constantine described Pronoy Halder as a “destroyer,” Halder stressed that he needs to “stay grounded and not get carried away.”

Reflecting back on his wonderful strike against Chinese Taipei in the inaugural match of the Intercontinental Cup where he cut down the left and curled it past the diving rival goalkeeper into the far corner, Halder admitted he “wants to score more like this.”

“I’m very delighted to have scored a goal like that. But I need to be more consistent if I want to score more,” he told.

Sitting relaxed at the team hotel lobby, Halder, a former AIFF Academy graduate kept going back to his days at the AIFF Academy under his “mentor” Colm Joseph Toal, the man who shaped many a career in Indian Football.

“Earlier, I used to play a central defender. But Colm-Sir introduced me as a defensive midfielder. The days at the Academy made me confident and laid the track for me. The discipline which we gathered from Colm-Sir has helped me a lot,” he stated.

“At that time we all felt that maybe so much discipline was perhaps not needed. But we all adhered to it. Today looking back, I understand had he not steered us through the rough waters, we may have all been swept away,” Halder recollected. “He always used to remind us that he will always follow us playing Football. I am so proud to have being coached by him.”

Halder graduated out of the AIFF Academy in 2011 along with his batchmates including Pritam Kotal, Narayan Das, Halicharan Narzary, Brandon Fernandes, Sehnaj Singh, Bikramjit Singh (jr) amongst others.

“After Colm Sir, Stephen Constantine is the person who has taught me a lot. I try to execute the plans laid down by him. After coming back from an injury lay-off, the performance against Chinese Taipei was a relief for me,” he added.

The starting XI against Chinese Taipei had seven ex-AIFF Academy cadets playing at tandem as a five-star India ran away with the match to win 5-0.

Halder continued: “I feel the AIFF Academy has played a major role in supplying players to the National team and it must continue like this. The Academy grooms and creates the supply line which helps the player to fit in the National Team setup quite effortlessly.”

Anirudh Thapa, another AIFF Academy graduate who started alongside Halder seemed to be a befitting duo at the midfield to wreck the damage.

“We complemented each other well and helped to soak in the pressure from the defenders. Thapa played a fantastic role in opening up the rival defence from behind and tracking back to help the defenders. I hope this partnership will go from strength to strength in the coming matches.”

Looking ahead, Halder stressed that he is ready for the Kenyan challenge in the next match. “We are aware of their capabilities but will not let them go easily. We’re ready for the challenge and we hope to overcome them to step one step closer to the final.”

India face Kenya at the same venue on June 4, 2018, the kick-off of which is at 8 pm.

It’s like a group of brothers playing together: Jhingan

NEW DELHI: Perhaps none knows that Sandesh Jhingan cried as a 17-year old when India lost to Bahrain in the Doha 2011 Asian Cup.In a freewheeling interview, Jhingan travels down memory lane to the day while speaking about his love for the National Team, his self-assessment as a player, the aim at the AFC Asian Cup 2019, defending as a Team, the ‘special back-four’ and much more. EXCERPTS:

Personally, what does qualification to the Asian Cup mean to you?

It’s a big achievement for the Country as it’s a continuous process of growth of Indian Football after the last qualification in Doha 2011. Our priority from now on is to improve and try to dominate in Asia as the Asian Cup provides us with the chance to play the bigger teams. To improve we need to learn the dominance and there is still a lot of work to be done for that.

Did you follow the Doha 2011 Asian Cup?

The last time India played in Doha (in 2011), I was a 17-year old boy and remember crying after our loss to Bahrain — a match which I felt we could have won. It was an emotional moment for a boy who was in love with the National Team and the other day in Bengaluru, it was a special moment when we qualified.

What next?

The job is not done yet. This is the first step which we have achieved because we will travel to UAE not just to participate. Rather, we need to make it to the next round for which, I reiterate, we need to work harder.

What do you attribute the unbeaten streak of the National Team to?

The biggest character of this team stays that we never give up. If you look back, we had a bad run initially but since then we have been able to turn around and it has to be attributed to the mental strength of the team.The unity in the squad is commendable, it’s like a group of brothers playing football together. That’s the understanding which we have and it’s very vital for us.

Within 2 years of making your international debut, you have earned the title of ‘Mr. Dependable.’ How much have you improved as a player?

(Smiles). The fans have been a huge support and I need to thank them for that.

But I feel it’s still a long way for me to improve as a player. I still need to work harder. Obviously, I have improved my fitness immensely and whether I have improved as a player, maybe the Coach and the others can comment. All I know is that the road is long.

The defensive back four has played a major role in taking India to this level.

I think it’s not just about the back four. If you look at the match against the Kyrgyzstan, there was a moment when Eugeneson Lyngdoh tackled in our own box which otherwise could have enabled them to score. We also have Halicharan Narzary running up and down the flanks in every match to help our side-backs.

Actually, it’s collective work with one covering up for the other. The whole team does that, so it’s not right to solely credit the back four for the defending.

What’s special about the four?

It’s the blind trust which we have amongst ourselves. Pritam Kotal, Narayan Das and I have been playing together since our U-23 days and it’s been quite a long time. Inadvertently the understanding has grown over the years, but for example, in a match, I ask anyone of the back four to turn, he will do it instantly without even thinking and I will reciprocate in the same manner if they tell me too.

India accomplish mission Macau by 2-0

MACAU: India took a giant step towards qualification for the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 when they registered a 0 – 2 win over Macau in an away match at the Olympic Stadium in Macau tonight (September 5, 2017).

In what was a totally one-sided contest, substitute Balwant Singh scored a brace with a header in the 57th minute and poacher’s goal in the 81st minute after a mix-up by the Macau back line.

This was India’s third successive victory and they sit pretty on top of Group A with 9 points. India are scheduled to face the same opponents on October 10 in the return fixture in India.

India started on a positive note as Macau seemed to be happy sitting back. Udanta and Narayan Das found ample space on the wings but the hosts managed to keep the crosses out.

Both Sunil and Jeje were heavily marked with their efforts finding the legs of the opposition defense.

Indian midfielders were dictating the game as they found acres of space near the box. Jeje cut in from the left but Sunil’s powerful shot was blocked out. Narzary showed some deft footwork as he twisted and turned but his shot was kept out by the keeper.

A flurry in the 36th minute saw Nazary and Rowllin combining well but the clearance made its way to Eugeneson whose long ranger hit the crossbar. Rowllin latched on to the rebound but his shot too was saved by the goalkeeper.

A couple more chances came India’s way with Jeje’s header landing on the roof of the net while Narzary’s perfect cross was met by Sunil only to be blocked out by the desperate Macauan defense.

India did have their chances and poor finishing robbed them of an early lead. Macau were also lucky when the crosspiece came to their rescue in the first half as the boys went into the break goal-less.

Constantine opted to introduce Balwant Singh after the break having withdrawn Eugenson Lyngdoh who saw his effort strike the crossbar in the 36th minute of the first-half.

Balwant’s introduction was just what the doctor ordered as he made an impact straightaway troubling the Macau backline. Pritam Kotal’s cross to him was headed just wide.

Also in the second half, a Sunil Chhetri header off a Pritam Kotal cross bounced off the crosspiece and then dropped on the goal line only to be collected by the rival goalkeeper.

A goal seemed ominous and it did arrive in the 57th minute when Balwant found the back of the net with a rising header as he met Narayan Das’ perfect ball into the box.

Balwant scoring his second goal for the national team after having scored his first against Mauritius in the recently concluded Tri-Nation series.

Sunil Chhetri came close on few occasions but it just wasn’t his night when he saw another of his efforts being saved. Balwant could have had his second minutes later, but his effort found the side-netting.

The misery for the host side was compounded when a terrible error by a defender led to Balwant capitalising on the goof-up and thus double the lead for India in the 81st minute.

Thus scoring his third goal in as many games since his reintroduction to the national team.

The men at the back too kept things tidy, although they didn’t have much to do with Macau adopting an ultra-defensive strategy all throughout and were never willing to open up.

Sandesh should be playing in bigger league says Constantine

 

MUMBAI: As India gear up for the second match in the International tri-series against St Kitts and Nevis to be played at the Mumbai Football Arena on August 24, Coach Stephen Constantine lavished huge praise on the newly-appointed captain Sandesh Jhingan.

“The captain has to reflect the character of the team. He has to set the tone of the team. Sandesh is a fighter like me who loves to lead the side from the front,” Constantine said.

Jhingan, who leads the crop of the new breed of Indian Footballers had made his debut for India against Nepal, which was Constantine’s first match as a Coach in his second stint.

“Sandesh to me a player who should be playing is a bigger league,” Constantine certified.

The defender par excellence, wasn’t too much willing to be over the moon. “Playing for your Country is itself a great honour and here I am, leading my Country,” he stated.

Jhingan has played a stellar role in the Indian back-four along with Anas Etathodika, Pritam Kotal, Narayan Das and Gurpreet Sandhu (in goal) in helping India create a new record for Indian Football in winning nine International matches (including the un-official match against Bhutan).

Constantine further went to say that Sandesh is a one of the ‘leaders for the future.’

“In coming days, at least we can identify Sandesh as a leader once Sunil hangs his boots,” he maintained.

Meanwhile, Chhetri, along with Gurpreet Singh Sandhu and Udanta Singh will be joining the National Camp after Bengaluru FC’s AFC Cup stint.

India have won two of their two matches in the AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers against Myanmar (away) and Kyrgyzstan (at home) and will face Macau on September 5 (in Macau).