Bengaluru, Sept. 17: It seems just a few years ago, that a nimble-footed player would weave his way round the middle of the park for the Blue Tigers, artistically threading assists to his teammates.
Former India midfielder, and now a member of the Technical Committee of the AIFF, Eugeneson Lyngdoh is one who believes in following the process without taking any shortcuts.
"The National Team has done great in the recent past. Qualifying for back-to-back AFC Asian Cups is very good for Indian Football, and we need to take things forward from here," said Lyngdoh. "I think we need to show faith in the coaches and the players who have taken us to the Asian Cup, and help them follow the process that they have set out for themselves. We cannot be looking at short term gains here.
"We should be at a stage where Asian Cup Qualification is a regular thing for India, and for that, our National Team needs to play during every international break. That's the only way the set of players will get better at playing alongside each other, that is how the team chemistry will build up," said Lyngdoh. "If we do that, I'm sure we can perform well once we get to the AFC Asian Cup."
The Senior Men's National Team is currently ranked 104 on the FIFA Rankings table. However, Eugene, as he was fondly known in the dressing room, is not one who dwells too much on the rankings.
"Rankings are important, but what really matters is how we play. And that will only improve with more matches against quality opponents," said Eugeneson Lyngdoh. "The team needs to grow together, and we need to grow together as a footballing nation with them."
The new Technical Committee, consisting of five former India Internationals - IM Vijayan (chairman), Harjinder Singh, Eugeneson Lyngdoh, Climax Lawrence, and Pinky Bompal Magar - will meet for the first time on Sunday, September 18, 2022 in Kolkata. Lyngdoh feels that the presence of all these eminent players in the committee will help it make better decisions that will be aimed at improving the conditions for the current footballers in India
"Getting the former players involved was a great step. Those who have been players know the ground reality and hardships that footballers have to face, and can make better decisions. They are the ones that can help decide what's best for Indian Football," he said.
The FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup is less than a month away, and as the country gears up for the showpiece event, Lyngdoh feels that India has great potential to do well in women's football, down the years.
"I remember the hype and the impact that the U-17 Men's World Cup had a few years back. I'm sure it will be quite similar in the women's game too. The coverage of the games will drastically increase, and that will also inspire parents, and kids, which is always great for the sport," said Lyngdoh. "I hope most parents in India get to see that football is not just a game anymore. It is a career, it is an economy unto itself, and kids can prosper in it."
A number of women footballers from India have taken the giant leaps in recent times, signing for clubs in Europe. Blue Tigresses winger Manisha Kalyan had earlier signed for Appollon Ladies, where she became the first India to play in the UEFA Champions League qualifiers, while Soumya Guguloth and Juli Kishan have also signed for Dinamo Zagreb recently.
"I think women's football in India already has a bright future. We saw Manisha play in the Champions League last month, and now Soumya and Juli have also signed for a big club like Dinamo Zagreb. It all points towards an upward graph for women's football," he said.
The 36-year-old signed off with a few words of encouragement for the U-17 girls, who are set to play the World Cup next month: "Dreams do come true, and when it does come, we need to be able to live it, to enjoy it. These dreams come once in a lifetime. I hope you all work hard for it, and when the moment comes, go out and enjoy it. Only when you enjoy your game, will you see your performance improve."