It’s the harsh truth which all of us will go through someday or the other. Manandeep Singh who lost his grandfather some days back but preferred to stay back with the team played a stellar role in India’s victory against Lebanon.
In a chat with www.the-aiff.com, Manandeep spoke at length about his personal loss, his graduation into the mainstream, Arthur Papas’ new style of play and much more.
Do you feel you have graduated into the mainstream?
It’s not for me to say. My Coaches will be able to tell you that. My job is to perform. A striker will be reaching goal-scoring situations in every match. The more the conversion rate, the better the striker. I am trying to improve upon that.
How much important is it for a striker to play regularly?
Leave aside a striker, any player sitting on the bench will start to lose his confidence. But at the same time, a team only comprises of 11 players. It’s a healthy competition among all teammates to get into that XI. Once you are in, you need to improve to maintain your spot otherwise someone else will snatch it from you.
How much did your stint with Indian Arrows help you?
A lot! The Indian Arrows are a platform for youngsters to get a chance to play regularly. Looking back at the Arrows, almost 13 boys have already represented India at the Senior level. And most are around 22. Though injury intervened in between, Arrows helped me to establish myself in Indian football. And when next season I got a regular chance with Air India, I grabbed it.
You lost your grandfather some days back and were supposed to go back home for the rituals.
My dad called up and passed on the news. I was devastated. I was very close to him. I had to take a call – continue playing for my country or go back. My grandfather always supposed me as a footballer and wanted me to become a top-notch striker. My conscience told me to stay back and play for my team.
Is concentrating in such a situation tough?
You seem lost at that moment. I wanted to take solace in what I do best – play football. The ball and the game took away my pain. I told to myself, if I get to start in the first match, I will come across an opportunity to score. I am much more mentally strong now.
What did Arthur Papas tell you?
I was given a responsibility and I tried my best. He had some specific instructions for me and my job was to stick to it and possibly do more value addition for the team.
What’s your take on India’s next match against Iraq?
It will be a difficult match for us. My job is to give my 100 percent on the field and never escape. In fact, it’s the job of all the eleven players. Iraq are a very strong side. We need play together as a unit.
Tell us something about India’s new style of play?
The style requires a lot of discipline. To be honest, when we were told about this new style of play, we had our doubts. It doesn’t mean we have grasped all of it. We are still learning and will continue to learn. There are certain duties entrusted upon all of us. We need to perform individually and help each other as a team. The mind frame is much more positive now.
(AIFF Press Release)