Life for Jeakson Singh Thounaojam, India’s first goal scorer in a FIFA World Cup has been “exciting and full of pleasant surprises” in the ongoing Hero I-League. As the midfielder still searches for his first goal in the Hero I-League, the ante is higher than before with AIFF’s developmental side Indian Arrows searching for a top four finish in the league.
In an exclusive interview, Jeakson talks at length about the experience in the Hero I-League, the FIFA U-17 World Cup, the Indian Arrows and a lot more.
Given that you were India’s first and sole goalscorer in the FIFA U-17 World Cup, is there any pressure to score goals in the Hero I-League?
My job as a midfielder is to provide support to the defence and the forwards as per the situation. If I get a chance to score I will take it, but there is no pressure on me to score. If the opportunity comes, like it did against Colombia in the FIFA U-17 World Cup, I will not shy away from doing what is needed.
So you won’t be pressing much high to score?
It is important to be focused and be in position while playing as a midfielder. Going forward too high can leave a gap in the midfield and the opponent can benefit from it.
How has the Hero I-League experience been for you?
The Hero I-League experience has been exciting and full of pleasant surprises. Right from the first Hero I-League match every second spent on the pitch has been nothing short than extraordinary. At the end of the day we are sharing the pitch with some of the best players of the Country and that in itself is a big accolade for us.
What are the challenges that you have faced playing in the Hero I-League?
The level of the Hero I-League is very high. There are players who can literally change the outcome of a match with a swing of their feet and that fused with high intensity has certainly been one of the challenges. The teams in the Hero I-league are very tactically organized and have much more experience under their belts as compared to us which proves to be the difference in crunch matches.
How is the Indian Arrow’s chemistry and composure?
We have been together longer than some of the club teams and hence, we have a bond of brotherhood established between us. Everything we do on the pitch is as a single unit and that is where our strength lies. We play as a unit, we attack as a unit and we defence as a unit.
What does it mean to be the youngest side to be playing in the Hero I-League?
It usually means to be the underdog in every match. But we rely on that underdog card and have stunned teams in the Hero I-League so far with our skill level and our confidence. The experience which the Hero I-League has provided and will provide will be immense for us in the coming years. The Hero I-League will certainly help us to become refined players.