The Indian U-23 national team had a recovery session at the Bangalore Football Stadium on Monday morning. The boys went through a limbering session under the watchful eyes of national coach Wim Koevermans.
All eyes stayed glued to the debutants who anchored India to a solitary goal victory over Pakistan the previous day. Sunday was historical in the sense as six players – Amrinder Singh, Sandesh Jhingan, Joyner Lourenco, Shankar Sampangirag, Mandar Rao Desai and Seiminlen Doungel – made their debuts for India.
“To be honest, I wasn’t nervous at all,” Mandar said at the official media interaction prior to the practice session. “But I can say I was very excited. My seniors in the team made me more confident and I tried to give my best,” he said.
Joyner, who was a figure of composure all throughout in the defence added: “I was eagerly waiting for my debut in the national team. In fact, that stays the aim for all players. It’s so satisfying. I wanted to play and need to thank my coach for finding me capable enough to do the job.”
Were you nervous?
“It was a good experience. I called up my dad who stays in UK. He congratulated me,” he quipped. “But I don’t have any plans of moving out of my country and settling in UK. I am doing best what I can do – playing football,” Joyner maintained.
“The gesture of the team floored us all. On Sunday evening, post dinner the entire team arranged for a cake-cutting ceremony for all the debutants of the match. That was such a nice gesture, so unexpected. We need to thank them all.”
“Coach (Wim Koevermans) used to say that international football is played at a much higher intensity than domestic level football. He was so right,” Mandar pronounced. “It’s too early to say but I am a much more confident player at the moment.”
“Adjusting into the national team’s practice sessions wasn’t tough,” Mandar further informed. “Even in our club, we follow the same style of play. So in that sense, it wasn’t all Latin for me.”
Joyner stated that Wim’s tips in the national team camp is helping him mature faster. “The all round discipline, both on and off the field is a learning curve. The tips which we get from the Coach also help in my play – in fact, to be precise, we all are learning,” he stated.
“The senior players have had a huge influence on everyone. Right from day one, they have goner that extra step to make us comfortable. They mixed with us so easily making us feel a part of the family. They always remind us to maintain our calm,” Joyner went on.
“We are improving on all aspects and will continue to do so under Wim-Sir’s coaching. The tour to Czech Republic was so helpful. We are all eagerly waiting for the Incheon Asian Games.”
The Indian contingent leave for China on August 24 for another 15-day exposure tour from where they proceed directly to Incheon, South Korea.
India’s second match against Pakistan at the Bangalore Football Stadium on Wednesday (August 20) kicks-off at 15.30 IST (12.00 CET / 11.00 GMT).
(Report & Picture courtesy AIFF Media)