New Delhi, June 1 (IANS) As it gears up for its campaign in the AFC U-17 Asian Cup to be held in Thailand, Amarjit Singh Kiyam, a member of the senior men’s team, has advised them to enjoy themselves on the pitch and not to succumb to the pressure.
Kiyam, who was the captain of the team when India made its debut at the U-17 World Cup in 2017 and knows a lot about the kind of challenges the current lot will face in the U-17 AFC Asian Cup.
The India U-17 landed in Thailand two weeks ahead of their tournament opener against Vietnam (June 17), to acclimatise and best prepare for success after a long tour in Europe.
Back home, there is a keen sense of expectation from the Blue Colts and a desire to see them become the first ones to break through the quarterfinals barrier (India’s best result) of the tournament.
Kiyam knows more than most what it takes to represent India at the age-group level in big tournaments as he comes through the ranks. Besides being the captain when India debuted and hosted the FIFA U-17 World Cup in 2017, Kiyam was also part of the U-20 and U-23 teams before making his India senior team debut in 2019.
“Sometimes when we talk, all of us from that 2017 batch, we reminisce about all the great times we had together of course, but also about how it prepared us for life ahead,” Kiyam was quoted as saying by the All-India Football Federation (AIFF).
“Playing against some good teams in the lead-up as well as the tournament itself taught me a lot about how to improve tactically, technically, and also as a person on the pitch itself,” said the footballer from Manipur.
A key fulcrum of that side, the 22-year=old Kiyam was not the only member of that U-17 team to go on to become part of the senior national men’s team as Anwar Ali, Jeakson Singh, Lalengmawia Ralte, Suresh Wangjam, Rahim Ali and Aniket Jadhav also did that.
Kiyam knows that the current U-17s have been undergoing a long and rigorous preparation for their ultimate test in Thailand.
“At this level, there are no easy opponents,” he said. “But neither should you feel pressure. I know that inevitably there will be some, after all, you’re playing for your country, and just putting on that jersey pumps the nerves up a bit. But my advice is that you let your training take over and just enjoy yourself on the pitch. You won’t lose, and you won’t make mistakes. All you’ll do is learn. And everything you learn will make you a better player and a person. Enjoy the experience and everything else will follow.”