New Delhi, November 11: 'Mr. Consistent' Pritam Kotal says that the back-four loves to "critically analyse" each other after every practice session and match. As India gear up to take on Myanmar in the AFC Asian Cup Qualifier on November 14, Kotal spoke at length about the assurance of having Gurpreet Sandhu under the bar, his "extra sessions" in the gym, the change in International Football and much more.
About the bonding among the back four in the national team?
Despite practising and playing together for quite some time now I feel the camaraderie off the field has been special. Beyond our practice sessions, we talk a lot among ourselves where we indulge in critical analysis.
We eagerly wait for the feedback from our other partners about when and where we went wrong, and areas we can and need to improve on. The feedback is reciprocal.
Most importantly, we are good friends and there are no ego clashes among any of us which helps us all to gel well. And it's not just the back four who are playing, but also the other defenders who are part of the squad.
How much of confidence does it give to a defender to have Gurpreet at the back?
Huge! To have the big man as the last line of defence is a big plus for us. The manner in which he communicates is exceptional. He keeps us alert and we always have an assurance that he is behind us and that adds to our confidence. He has pulled off amazing saves which only he is capable of.
What has been your biggest learning in International football?
At the international level, there is no room for any mistakes. If you ever commit a mistake, you are bound to be punished for it, no matter which team you may be playing against. International football is played at a different level where you cannot lose concentration even for one second.
You are quite a fitness freak.
To succeed at the International level, you need to stay at the peak of your fitness. Football has changed over the years and a player needs to do a lot of high intensity running all throughout. The endurance level has to stay high. So unless you are at your peak, you won't succeed.
Besides the normal practice sessions, what else do you do?
You cannot stay content with the fitness attained during the practice sessions. You always need to work more. So I spend time in the gym regularly. Football has become much more physical and one needs to stay ready for the challenge.