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FIFA World Cup Qualifier | Prepared to face Bangladesh, asserts Anirudh Thapa

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FIFA World Cup Qualifier | Prepared to face Bangladesh, asserts Anirudh Thapa

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SportsCafe Desk

10/13/2019

Anirudh Thapa has said that the Indian football team is now 'mentally, physically and strategically' prepared for the Bangladesh challenge and feels a full house crowd will work in the home team’s favour. Thapa made his senior debut for India last year in a resounding 5-0 win over Chinese Taipei.

The Indian football team is all set to take on Bangladesh in the FIFA World Cup qualifier match at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata. The team under the coaching of Igor Stimac has already reached the City of Joy to play against their eastern neighbours. According to footballer Anirudh Thapa the Indian team is well-prepared for the upcoming match.

"We have seen Bangladesh play against Qatar. They are a good side. They will come all out,” Thapa told TOI. Thapa believes a full house crowd will work in the home team’s favour. 

Back in 2012, if Thapa would have decided to sit for his pre-board examinations instead of cooking up a lie and telling his hostel administration that he had a toothache and had to return home, India would have missed out on one of its best young prospects. Anirudh was a student of Chandigarh-based St Stephen's Academy that has gifted Indian football with the likes of Gurpreet Singh Sandhu and Sandesh Jhingan. It was when the AIFF was looking for junior players for its academy in Kolkata and a trial was set for Dehradun, the then 15-year-old Thapa took an important decision which he feels was the wise one.

"That time was my initial launchpad. My pre-board exams were about to begin, so I was in a fix as to whether I would give exams or go for trials. In the end, I think I made a wise decision that day and because of that I'm here today," Anirudh told TOI on Saturday, reminiscing his formative days. 

Thapa was picked for the India under-15 team that year and went on to represent India in the SAFF U-16 championships in Nepal the following year.  Having made his senior debut in India colours on June 30 last year in a resounding 5-0 win over Chinese Taipei in the Intercontinental Cup, the 21-year-old star has gone on to become the poster-boy of India's emergence as a young force, be it for the side under Stephen Constantine at the Asian Cup or now the one under Igor Stimac. 

"The past year has really been generous towards me. Because the scale of knowledge and understanding of the game has only increased and I consider myself lucky to play under such great coaches and learn from their experiences," he said. 

Having been now trained under former Croatian World Cupper Stimac, Anirudh is also lucky enough to work under eminent former England International John Gregory, his coach at Chennaiyin FC. "Both coaches have different styles and understanding of the game. And this gives me an opportunity to grab with both hands and learn as much as possible, because you know the sky is the limit and everyday I'm learning something new. It's good for my knowledge and my game," he said. 

Anirudh is aware that competition to make the national side has become intense as many others are waiting in the wings to pounce on any opportunity. This is why, he wants to live in the present.

"Where I would see myself in the next five years? I don't know, honestly speaking. But I do have confidence in myself and my abilities. And I can only think about how I could use my strength to get the team to where it should be. Well, I'm only as good as my team," he signed off.

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