Amarjit believes India can do the ‘unthinkable’ against Qatar
Barring the last ten minutes of their joint second round FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 Qualifiers matchup against Oman, the Blue Tigers treated fans to one of the best performances in recent memory last Thursday. The team almost perfectly executed head coach Igor Stimac's plan for almost the entirety of tie, playing some exemplary football without sacrificing any their defensive acumen. This discipline was even more impressive when one considers the absence of Stimac’s go-to midfield enforcer - Amarjit Singh.
The 18-year-old has been a revelation for the Blue Tigers since breaking into the national team under Stimac He was a part of the preliminary squad and was expected to make the final team, but a late elbow injury subsequently ruled out of the matches against both Oman and Qatar.
Currently nursing the injury back home at Phoubal in Manipur, the midfielder has his eyes firmly on his teammates and is confident that they can upset the reigning Asian Champions Qatar in their own backyard on Tuesday. He said, "In football, it’s all about those 90 minutes. Nothing else matters. A year back, did anyone ever think that Qatar would be Asian Champions? But they have overcome powerhouses like Japan, Australia, Iran, and Korea Republic. That was quite unthinkable. So, there’s no reason to believe we can’t. I understand Qatar are labelled as ‘Spain of Asia,’ and that too for a reason. They are a very good team. But on the field, no history matters. It’s about fighting face to face, for the ball, and with the ball."
"We need to be mentally strong, and not get overawed playing them at their home. I repeat, it isn’t easy, but it isn’t impossible either," the youngster added stressing the need for mental fortitude - a trait he is known for - against Qatar.
In fact, it is the same never-say-die mentality which has made Amarjit one of the most likeable members in the Blue Tigers dressing room. The talismanic Sunil Chhetri, too, is a fan of this very mindset and regards the 18-year-old highly. "Amarjit is a livewire. He is somebody who is so honest. If you tell him that you need to punch the wall for three hours, three hours later, when you come back you will still see him punching it. He has been a standout performer in the last 3-4 games for us. I really hope he recovers soon," Chhetri had said in an earlier interview.
Stimac mirrored Chhetri’s assessment of the youngster and reminded everyone of what Amarjit brings to the table. "Amarjit absolutely deserved to be here with us. All I can say that is that we are waiting for you. You are part of this team. Get well soon and rejoin us. He is someone with great technical capability, can pass it around, and bring in the fight," said the Indian head coach.
Citing an example of Amarjit's commitment level to the team, Chhetri revealed, "The day he was operated he called up and asked for what food he should have. He said, 'my recovery starts now. I need to have the same food the team is having'."
Asked about the incident, Amarjit said, "I have to. It hurts to be out. It’s Qatar tomorrow. There’s no reason why we can’t. It’s about those 90 minutes."