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The Best Indian Player speaks...

With Team India all set to leave for Malaysia on Tuesday to compete in the AFC Challenge Cup 2012 Qualifiers where they have Chinese Taipei, Turkmenistan and Pakistan for company, only finishing in the top two would grant them a place in the tournament next year.

The benefits of winning the AFC Challenge Cup are well known to India as it grants a direct berth into the elite Asian Cup.

Gouramangi Moirangthem, one of the few experienced heads, in the squad named believes that the opponents are not unknown to India.

“We have to bring out the best in our team as only then do we have a chance. If I remember, we have faced these opponents in the last three years or so and have done reasonably well against them. And we know our goal of trying to finish in the top two in the qualifiers,” said the Churchill Brothers SC player.

With coach Bob Houghton naming a relatively inexperienced squad for the upcoming qualifiers, the onus will be on players like Gouramangi, Sunil Chhetri, Subrata Paul and others to lead the pack and become role models. However, the Manipuri believes that with a young squad, everyone has to prove themselves all over again and fight for their places.

“I would say that in my whole career, I have always been a learner. As soon I get up in the morning, the idea is to learn something new and it could be from a senior, junior, coach or anyone which can help me improve as a player.

“This is a young group and you can say that it’s a mix of young and a little experienced players. A young squad means more competition for places and that will be interesting. I’m really looking forward to this camp as I believe the training will be in high tempo.

“Just because I’m in the squad doesn’t mean I’m there in the starting eleven. This is a new team and you have to fight for your place. This is a good chance for us to prove ourselves all over again.

“We need to go there and bring out the best from this team which is our future for the coming years. If we follow the coach’s instruction, I’m sure we can do well.

“We need to contribute our best for India and hope to put on a good show,” said the Indian Player of the Year.

Gouramangi also appealed to fellow countrymen to pray for those affected from the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

“The whole world must support it and let us pray that things don’t get worse for them,” he added.

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