Balwant Singh is one of the players who has made the cut for India’s 23-member squad which is currently preparing for the AFC Asian Cup in the UAE. Goal caught up with the forward ahead of the big test as he gears up for the opener against Thailand.
Speaking about the preparations for the tournament, the Hoshiarpur-born stressed on how important it is for the players to be fit. He also expressed his opinion on how every team in the tournament can provide a threat and no fixture can be taken for granted.
“The preparations for the Asian Cup are going well. The good thing is that all the players in the squad are fit.”
“We know that we can’t take anyone lightly. I know that all three teams in our group are very strong and the same can be said about every team in the competition,” the forward explained.
Just like any other striker, Balwant wants to focus on scoring as many goals as possible. That the ATK striker has struggled to find goals this season is true. But Balwant is working hard and believes that it’s just a matter of time that the he starts burying those chances.
“My targets are the same as that of any other striker - I want to score some goals. I want to contribute as much as I can in attack and in defence. We have a plan and that has enabled us to reach here. We will be executing the same plan in the tournament too.”
“Yes, things are going well but I am not soring as many goals as I should. But I hope that they come and I’m working very hard towards it. I need to score more for my club and country and I hope they start coming soon,” the ATK player said.
Deployed as a left-winger by Steve Coppell in the first few games of the season, transitioning to a central role can be hard but the 32-year-old is confident of putting on a good show as a striker and believes that a temporary change in role will not have a huge impact on his performance.
“I don’t think that can be a problem. I started at left-wing only in the first two or three games. I have played as a striker for the past 10 years and playing in a different position for 3-4 games won’t make any difference. I think that fitness is very important,” Balwant said.
The former JCT striker appreciated coach Stephen Constantine’s team selection and pointed out that he picks players on merit.
“With various friendlies and tournaments like the Intercontinental cup taking place, a lot of youngsters are provided with an opportunity to prove themselves. This has motivated me to work harder and achieve my goals. Constantine recognises hard work and provides opportunities regardless of how old you are.”
The forward may not boast of many caps for the national team but he is not short of any memorable performance in national colours which are worthy of appreciation. Balwant scored a brace in India’s 2-0 win over Macau in the Asian Cup qualifiers.
“If I need to pick one memorable performance in the national team colours, it has to be the Asian Cup qualifier tie against Macau. The coach believed in me and I scored a brace,” he concluded.