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The Salgaocar FC keeper was content with the preparations of the Blue Tigers in the build-up to the Challenge Cup qualifiers and hopes to make the main edition in 2014...

The past year has seen three custodians in-between the sticks for the Blue Tigers. Karanjit Singh had shown great command of his box in his stint, before Subrata Paul returned from injury and took back the number one slot.

However with the Prayag United keeper currently second choice at his club, Sandip Nandy started against Palestine, with Karanjit out due to an injury.

With Wim Koevermans picking all three for the 2013 AFC Challenge Cup qualifiers, it remains to be seen, who is the Dutchman’s preferred first choice keeper.

The Salgaocar FC keeper though, is calm about the situation and stated, “Competition is always there, even when I was playing. Everyone is working hard, the third and second choice also want to be number one, so competition is intense. But we always give 100% in training and leave the rest to the coach.”

The Indian custodian was also happy with the outcome of the training camp in Pune and commented, “The two weeks went well, and everything was organized nicely. Practice also was good. Though unfortunately the East Bengal and Churchill players left early, but we are content with the camp.”

“The players were fit, but maybe the coach would have liked to see more of the players in practice but they (the East Bengal and Churchill Brothers players) had to leave due to the AFC Cup games,” added the Salgaocar FC custodian.

When quizzed about how often Wim Koevermans intervenes during training and his affect on the general game-play of the Blue Tigers, Karanjit revealed, “ There was not enough time (to work on issues individually), also some players were injured, but the coach follows us all closely and we abide by his decisions.”

The goalkeeper watched the drubbing against Palestine from his home, as he hurt his back in a league encounter in the days leading up to the game. Giving his take on the performance, Karanjit mentioned, “Our performance was good in the first half and second too, but we conceded early goals in the second half and then the game slipped from our hands, even though we dominated a lot of the game. But those goals were a problem.”

When asked about why the team had failed to repeat their heroics of the Nehru Cup against Singapore and Palestine, the custodian opined, “Back then (during the Nehru Cup) we were together for long, but once you go back to your club you play according to the formation over there. Then for these friendlies, we and the coach don’t get enough time to tune the players according to our needs, as we come 2 to 3 days before the game. It is obviously better to be together for 2 to 3 weeks.”

Karanjit though, is confident that the team will qualify with flying colours from their AFC Challenge Cup qualifiers group, and stated, “Our target is to qualify for the AFC Challenge Cup, as our team is strong and we have practiced well. Hopefully the players who return from the AFC Cup will also be high on confidence after getting good game-time. Our aim is to do well in all three games and qualify.”

The Salgaocar FC player though, was wary against taking his opponents lightly and mentioned, “I have played against Chinese Taipei in Sri Lanka and they are a strong team. Though I have not played against Myanmar and Guam, they are also good sides.”

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