Narender Gahlot: Very proud and happy moment for me and my family

In what can be touted as India’s best performance under new head coach Igor Stimac, the Blue Tigers ended their last 2019 Hero Intercontinental Cup match with a 1-1 draw against a higher-ranked Syria side. In a squad that saw a number of changes from their last outing against DPR Korea, it was the young centre-back Narender Gahlot who gave India the lead in the second half with his first senior goal for the country, following it up with some impressive performances at the back.

Post an exhilarating 90 minutes of play, caught up with the 18-year-old to speak about the match, the goal and more. Here are the excerpts.

How do you feel after scoring your maiden goal for the National team?

I feel very happy that I have scored for the team and for the country. It is a very proud and happy moment for me, my family and my country.

How do you feel playing with so many senior players in the squad?

It is a very proud moment for me since I get to play alongside my idols like Sunil (Chhetri) bhai and Sandesh Jhingan bhai. I feel delighted and it is like a dream to play with them, sharing the dining hall as well as the field. They motivate us, educate us and teach us about life and how to support each other and be happy.

What have you learned playing alongside Rahul Bheke, Sandesh Jhingan, and Adil Khan?

I'm learning not only from them but also from the others, irrespective of whether they’re junior or senior players. I even learn from those who are with me. When they tell me something, I listen to them keenly and learn. We all think well and support each other.

How confident are you and the team for the upcoming 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers?

A new coach (Igor Stimac) has come, and he has brought in a pass and move philosophy. We do not play many long balls now and we are adapting to it steadily. Like in the first game against Tajikistan, the first half was good, but we made mistakes in the second half. In the second game against DPR Korea too, we committed many mistakes. But we played well in the third game against Syria. So, we will try to adapt faster and aim to go as far as possible.

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