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Playing for national team a dream and I’m happy it’s not easy, says Mandar Rao Desai

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ISL

Playing for national team a dream and I’m happy it’s not easy, says Mandar Rao Desai

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Subhayan Dutta

12/08/2018

FC Goa’s Mandar Rao Desai would be a proper example of the talent pool that the Indian Super League was once formulated and envisioned for. Showing both experience and utility on the field over the years, Mandar now waits for the esteemed national call-up that seems just around the corner.

ISL has currently been in its Phase 3 with the new tournament format seeing a 10-day break every 26 days, since it started with a quick 10-day run back on September 29. However, for the Indian players this one is the most crucial of all the phases as their good performance over the next few days could put them into the national squad for the AFC Asian Cup commencing next month.

Under English manager Stephen Constantine the Blue Tigers have definitely been above average, especially at the AFC Asian Cup qualifications where they won seven matches, drew twice and lost one in the group stages. It was followed by some international friendlies as well where the biggest highlight was a 0-0 draw against Asian giants China.

However, given the struggling likes of Jeje Lalpekhlua, Pritam Kotal, Holicharan Narzary, and more, Constantine would definitely be looking at a huge shuffle ahead of the big test in January. This opens up a glorious chance for the likes of Seiminlen Doungel, Lallianzuala Chhangte, Jerry Mawihmingthanga, Thoi Singh, and others, who have shown sparks of brilliance in ISL so far. However, contrary to their raw and inconsistent talent, Constantine has a more experienced, useful, and reliable option on the left in Mandar.

Waiting for a national call-up with baited breathe, Mandar is, however, quite relishing the challenges he has on his way before achieving the dream. “I am happy that there is so much competition in the team. It helps me stay motivated at all points of time. All the names that you have taken have really set good benchmark and I look at it as a challenge to be better than any of them. That’s the goal. Playing for the national team should never be easy and I am happy that it’s not at the moment,” said the 26-year-old in an interview with Sportscafe.

While everyone is hailing the Spanish elements in ISL now that has completely changed the style of play by introducing the subtle nuances, the league was not always like this. If looked at the champions of the first three seasons in ATK and Chennaiyin FC, the league, despite having bigger names, didn’t define the eye-catching passing football as a successful style of play, as is shown by the likes of Goa, Jamshedpur FC, and NorthEast United FC of late.

Mandar believes that after the glamour and glitz that was initially necessary for an emerging league, the league has now grown into the next level of better game play. “The general play has improved, I feel. The league is growing and new teams are coming in. That means there are a lot more games and that is always good. The marquee players brought with them a lot of attention, glamour and a wealth of knowledge. That helped people take notice of the ISL in the initial days.

“Now we have players like Coro, Edu and Jahouh. They might not be as well-known as the names you stated, but I feel they are great additions to the team. They challenge you every day in training and that brings the onus of improving yourself constantly.”

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