Striker Manvir Singh who headed to the national team after a successful domestic season maintains that nothing is constant as a striker. In a candid interview, Manvir opens up about learning from Sunil Chhetri and Roy Krishna, his maturity, the forthcoming match against Afghanistan and talks at length about him playing as a striker and also as a winger.
How much have you matured as a striker in recent years?
A striker is all about the confidence and that only comes though the game time he gets. The more you get to play, the more mature you become. It’s all about your intuition, the movements inside the box, sniffing it, and eventually the finishing. I reiterate, you can only get all of that when you get to play. Otherwise, your talent and determination will always be on the bench.
What is the biggest takeaway for a striker?
I have learnt that nothing is constant. There will be days when you will score and there will be misses too. A striker needs to move on and stay focused.
Can you elaborate?
My job becomes easier when I play alongside top strikers. I just watch Sunil-bhai and try to imitate his calm in front of the goal. At the end of the day, that ice-cool head makes all the difference. That’s education for me. In a match a striker won’t get a million chances.
There will be days when you will get just one chance, or maybe a half chance. If you are able to make it count, you have done your job. I also need to mention that I look up to Roy Krishna’s calm in front of the goal. They are my heroes.
How would you describe yourself as a player – a winger, or as a striker?
At the outset, I was an out and out striker. But a player needs to be flexible. Modern-day football is not just about sticking to one position and role. I have been playing on the wings – both on the right wing and left wing in recent times. I feel that has helped me understand the dynamics of a team’s attacking philosophy. It is a plus point for any player.
Sunil has been there for so long. How do you describe his longevity?
My dad Kuldip Singh who played for PSEB as a striker and scored quite a few goals in the Federation Cup, Durand Cup and the IFA Shield besides a host of other tournaments always mentions to me to learn from Sunil-bhai the art of his longevity. In fact, he had played against him, and always tells me: “When you are seeing him from close, learn as much as you can. Sunil’s speciality is that he has been there for so long. And that is extremely hard work.”
Being around him I have already taken my baby steps. The rest is for me to sustain, and improve.
What can we expect from the next match against Afghanistan?
We need to sustain the momentum gathered in the match against Bangladesh and even in the 0-1 loss against Qatar. But everyone is aware that all of that is past. The match on 15th is a fresh canvas. We need to paint it the right manner. The coach has been constantly working with us. We need to pay him back.
(Nilanjan Datta / AIFF Media)