Mishra hopes to improve his footballing education with the Blue Tigers after a scintillating season in Hero ISL
Among the many rising stars from Hyderabad FC in the recently concluded 2020-21 Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL), fullback Akash Mishra stood out with his speedy forward runs and his ability to keep the opponents’ pacey wingers at bay.
His exploits did not go unnoticed and now the youngster has a chance to display his potential with the national team after being called up by Igor Stimac for upcoming international friendlies against Oman (March 25) and the United Arab Emirates (March 29) in Dubai.
Ahead of the friendlies, the Emerging Player of the Month for January spoke about the differences between playing for the Blue Tigers and playing for a club in an interview with the AIFF. “The national team camp is entirely different from a club set-up. It’s the next level,” he said.
He went on: “The national team is the best version of any country. The best in our country of 1.4 billion [people] are called for the national team camp. The better ones will get into the final 23 and after that it’s a mad rush for the XI amongst all – it’s extreme, but it’s also healthy competition.
“Even in a normal practice session, you need to give more than 100 per cent. Otherwise, someone else will replace you. This is not a club where you are on a contract. This spot needs to be earned, and sustaining it is like an impossible task. And when you are surrounded by experienced players who are better than you, your footballing education improves.”
The 19-year-old fullback had a scintillating debut Hero ISL season with the club from Telangana in the 2020-21 campaign. He played every minute of football for Hyderabad FC (1800 minutes across 20 games) and bagged one assist for his team besides coming up with 80 tackles, 55 interceptions, 48 clearances and 37 blocks.
When asked if he ever entertained any thoughts of getting a national team call-up midway through the season, he said: “I didn’t think much. I had made a start and didn’t want to spoil it by contemplating too much about a call that wasn’t in my hand. I knew that at the stage if I started to relate everything to the national team, my performance for my club may suffer.
“And I kept on repeating to myself not to ever exert in my eagerness to impress. I am grateful to get very able guidance from Subrata Paul, Adil Khan and Halicharan Narzary and obviously my club coach Manuel Marquez.”
Talking about his interaction with Stimac so far, Mishra said: “He is very patient and understanding. He stresses [the importance of] technical play. I look up to him. I have never seen him hassled or angry. He is so cool in every situation – an aspect which we need to bring into our lives even at the personal level.”