New Delhi, Feb 13 (IANS) Vishal Joon was one of the standout performers in Rajasthan United’s promotion push for the Hero I-League. The goalkeeper kept three straight clean sheets in the final round of I-League Qualifiers last year to seal his side’s first-ever promotion.
As the I-League restarts after a gap of two months, Joon feels Rajasthan have utilised their time well. “The break has been a blessing in disguise for us as it has given us more time to better prepare for the league and for the new signings to gel with the squad.”
This is Joon’s first year in the Hero I-League and the 26-year-old is determined to grab this opportunity with both hands and add value to Rajasthan United. “We are very confident that the team will be able to put out competitive performances in the league. The management has given us the freedom to go and express ourselves, however, we cannot take things lightly as we are representing the state of Rajasthan,” said Joon.
Joon actually started playing football as a striker in Haryana but later switched to become a custodian. “During practice matches, no player wanted to be a goalkeeper and as a striker, I didn’t get many chances to play. So I picked up the gloves and it all started from there,” he stated.
Rajasthan have roped in former Barcelona academy coach Francesc Bonet for the season. “Coach Bonet always has our backs and gives us freedom when we are on the pitch. One thing which I like about him is that he’s very demanding during training sessions. As a goalkeeper, I like to get more involved in the game and that’s what he encourages me to do,” said Joon, whose favourite goalkeeper is Bonet’s countryman Iker Casillas.
While Joon will be hoping to earn his big break in his debut season at this level, he firmly believes that the achievements of the team matter more than those of any individual in a team sport like football. “We go out and target three points in every match, irrespective of the opponents. We’ve got some experienced players in the team such as Abhishek Ambekar, Pedro Manzi and Shilton D’Silva who are Hero I-League regulars and they share a lot of insights,” he added.