A good performance can do wonders to your confidence. Ask Pailan Arrows' rookies Pritam Kotal and Rajinder Kumar and they will tell you. In a freewheeling interview at Jamshedpur with Debayan Mukherjee the players spoke about their spirited show against five time National League champions Dempo and how the result boosted their confidence, the attitude of the team, rubbing shoulders with experienced counterparts like Climax Lawrence, Clifford Miranda and co, their idols in the Indian Senior Team and lot more. EXCERPTS:
Pailan were keen to prove a point against Dempo and did it. Take us through it.
Pritam: Certainly. They are a top side with players who have vast experience. So taking the game to them for a young side like ours was very satisfying. It was challenging from the outset. Playing against Dempo in your first match is always going to be tough. Our coach needs to be credited for boosting our morale.
Rajinder: We took the field knowing that if we stick our gameplan and philosophy, we can take the game to them. We intended in keeping possession. Our practice sessions were very productive and that gave us the confidence to do well.
How was the experience playing against top players like Climax Lawrence, Clifford Miranda, Anthony Pereira and others?
Rajinder: It was a great learning curve. We had to stop their movement on the flanks. I had the responsibility to build moves down the flanks. But we were told to stress more on curbing their flank movement as Coach (Arthur Papas) always maintains wing play has become very important and most of the attacks are generated from the wide areas.
Pritam: Our style is to use full backs more. So I had to shoulder a lot of responsibilities. It was challenging. The coach and support staff gave me so much confidence. I was told not to let crosses be floated into the dreaded area. The very fact that I was successfully stopping Anthony Pereira was so satisfying.
Pailan Arrows is AIFF'S developmental side and its goal is to build players for the future. Do you dream of playing for India in the future?
Pritam: (Smiles) Of course. That goes without saying. We are on the right path. It will be a dream come true to don India colours someday. I dream of that day.
Rajinder: We give our 100% everyday on the field and try to improve with every match. Every player dreams of donning the National jersey. I just want to perform.
Whom do you look upto in the Senior Team?
Pritam: Deepak Mondal (India and Prayag United defender) and Syed Rahim Nabi (India and Mohun Bagan full back). These two players inspire me as a full back. Both are so very versatile and adaptive. Nabi recently played a stellar role in the Nehru Cup triumph.
I love Deepak's assiduous nature on the pitch. His work rate is unbelievable. I did interact with Nabi in the friendly we played against the Senior Team prior to the Nehru Cup at Jaypee Greens. He told me to stay focused.
Rajinder: I look up to Sunil Chhetri (India captain and Sporting Lisbon striker) and Sanju Pradhan (India and East Bengal winger). Chhetri's presence inside the box is so intimidating. I love his spot jumps.
As far as Sanju-bhai is concerned, I love the way he jinks past defenders and darts up to meet the ball. I take lot of inspiration from them.