Asian Cup 2011: Player Profile - Nanjangud Shivananju Manju

Former India Under-23 skipper
Date Of Birth:09.05.1987
Position: Central Defender/ Left Back
Club: Free Agent
Strengths: Strong in the air, Tackling
Weaknesses: Lack of pace
Trivia: Manju was nominated for the ‘Best Indian Player’ Award at the inaugural edition of the FPAI Awards Night in 2009

Manju caught the attention of Indian football followers while playing for Mahindra during the 2005 Federation Cup, where he not only exhibited how good a defender he is but also demonstrated his ability to score goals from set-pieces. Mahindra went on to win that tournament and Manju also played a key role in helping the Mumbai club win the National League that season. His performances earned him a call up to the senior camp.

The Mysore born player  featured in the 2006 Asian Games and impressive performances in that tournament earned him a starting place in the senior squad during the 2007 Asian Cup qualifiers. One of his fine moments came in heavy 7-1 defeat against Saudi Arabia, the match in which he scored to give India a surprise lead. He then captained the India under-23 side in five of their six 2008 Olympic qualifiers.

By 2007, Manju’s reputation as a central defender, who can also slot in at left back, grew further. He was an integral part of India’s 2007 Nehru Cup winning squad. In that tournament Manju was used as a left back and his performances made him a certain starter for future tournaments. That year he also signed for Kolkata giants Mohun Bagan. He made a slow start to his Bagan career and then was unfortunate to suffer an injury during the 2008 SAFF Cup.

That injury kept him out of the 2008 AFC Challenge Cup also but Manju returned from injury and had a very good season at club level with Mohun Bagan, winning three trophies with the Mariners. He suffered an injury in the opening game of the 2009 Nehru Cup against Lebanon and that kept him out for the rest of tournament and also almost the first part of the 2009-10 season. Due to injuries, Manju hasn’t got much gametime in national team colours in the last two years, so he would hoping to stay fit and stake claim for a first team place in Qatar 2011.

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