Manandeep Singh is pleased with his inclusion in the Nehru Cup probables and hopes to make the cut for the tournament this time around after missing out on a place in the Challenge Cup squad.
Having scored nine goals in the I-League last season and winning the Young Player of the Year award at the Football Players’ Association of India (FPAI) Indian Football Awards 2012, Manandeep has put together a strong case in front of the national team coach to be selected into the final 20 member Nehru Cup squad. And that wasn’t it as he went on to be a part of the U-22 side which fared well at Oman in the AFC U-22 Championship Qualifiers where Manandeep scored a brace in India’s 5-2 victory over Lebanon in their opening fixture.
Bhaichung Bhutia, the name synonymous with Indian football, had mentioned last month that for India to improve its ranking, they would need "a few more Manandeeps in the I-League."
“It feels great to be a part of the national camp. It’s the best thing for us, that is, to represent our country. Every boy wants to achieve this,” Manandeep shared his thoughts with Goal.com.
With Sunil Chhetri being the only established striker in the national team setup, there is an opportunity for the rest of the brigade which includes the likes of Jeje Lalpekhlua, Joaquim Abranches, Robin Singh and Manandeep himself, there is a window of opportunity for the strikers to stake a claim in the starting eleven.
Manandeep winning the FPAI Young Player of the Year Award
“As I say, it is the coach’s decision on who he wants to play. In my head, I know I give my best in the practice. Everyone wants to play and nobody is here to watch. I am sure everyone wants to be in the team,” he said.
Speaking on the preparations for the Nehru Cup, Manandeep mentioned of not having much information on their opponents except the Syrians.
“I remember watching the last two Nehru Cup finals against Syria when I was with the U-16 and U-19 camps.
“As far as the preparations are concerned, we are having good training sessions. Sometimes we train twice in a day. I can say that we are trying our level best.”
Koevermans has highlighted the need to move the ball along the ground and Manandeep shared some of the instructions given by the Dutchman in his training sessions.
“He (Koevermans) wants the whole team to play along the ground. He wants us to keep the ball more with us. He also asked us to pressurize when we don’t have the ball from the top. The need to pressure together as a unit was also highlighted,” the 19 year old stated.
Having had a top season with Air India, it comes as a no surprise that Manandeep has decided to switch clubs with several top clubs wanting to have his services. The former Indian Arrows striker opted for Trevor Morgan’s East Bengal in his quest for first team football.
“I have signed for East Bengal. It’s not about the pressure really as that is a constant in every match you play. You just try to be the best and give your best in every game you play whether it is for Air India, India U-22, India senior team or East Bengal. It is vital to give your hundred percent,” he concluded.
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