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Young Nikhil Poojary determined to “make it count”

Nikhil Poojary during an Indian national team training session in New Delhi. (Photo courtesy: AIFF Media)

Promising youngster Nikhil Poojary wholeheartedly thanked the All India Football Federation (AIFF) for staying by his side during his rehabilitation days before making a comeback in the ongoing National Team camp in New Delhi.

“I feel short of words to thank AIFF for staying by my side during those awful days. Initially, I couldn’t imagine that AIFF will provide me with such a strong support to get me back to the field,” Poojary expressed during a media interaction on the sidelines of the ongoing preparatory Camp for the forthcoming SAFF Suzuki Cup.

The 22-year-old Mumbai-based player made his professional debut for East Bengal in the 2016-17 season before making his international debut for India U-23 National Team in the AFC U-23 Championship Qualifiers in Doha where his sparkling performance down the flanks earned him huge plaudits. Soon after, his career faced a jolt when he injured himself in the CFL 2017-18.

“After the eventful 2016-17 season, I hit the rock owing to the injury next season. Initially, I didn’t have the slightest idea how serious the injury was. But the MRI report showed that there was a tear, turning out to be ACL in my left leg,” Poojary informed.

“I would like to thank Gigy (George)-Sir, Danny (Deigan) and Coach (Stephen Constantine) for backing me during my rehab. Coach had himself suffered from ACL during his playing days hence, he could connect to my worries easily.”

“Honestly, I was not expecting to get a call-up in this camp but Coach showed his faith in me. Herein lies the challenge for me. All the boys are super-fit and I have no other option but to be on par with them. Come what may, I have to push my limits and perform well. It’s a great opportunity and I would not leave this one wasted. I need to make it count,” Poojary sounded determined.

On being asked about the mood of the camp, he revealed: “Coach always prefers high-intensity games and motivates us to push more during the training sessions. I was not expecting to join the training before August 18 August but thanks to everyone’s blessing and cohesive effort, I could join two weeks prior. I was nervous at the starting but after a few sessions, I started feeling positive.”

India will play their first match against Sri Lanka in the SAFF Suzuki Cup 2018 in Dhaka on September 5, 2018.

(AIFF Media)