Ritwik Das interview: I have a responsibility towards my own self to perform better next season

Jamshedpur FC midfielder Ritwik Das is eyeing an improved show when the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) returns with the 2022-23 season.

Das who hails from West Bengal has made a name for himself in Jamshedpur with impressive performances for Jamshedpur FC last season as he helped himself to four goals and one assist.

The 25-year-old earned high praise from former head coach Owen Coyle who backed it up by consistently including Das in his team. The midfielder played 17 matches for Jamshedpur FC last season, an effort that earned him his first national team call-up as he was picked in the initial squad for the AFC Asian Cup qualifiers.

Although Das couldn’t make the final cut, he has certainly got himself into the scheme of things ahead of next year’s AFC Asian Cup.

With a longer domestic season likely in 2022-23, Das is gearing himself for another big campaign as he hopes to take Jamshedpur FC to the Hero ISL title and also help his case in the Indian team

Das caught up with indiansuperleague.com for an exclusive interview ahead of the new season and spoke about his plans for the upcoming campaign.

Here are the excerpts from the interview:

What's your take about a longer football calendar for Indian Football from this year? Do you think you can handle more workload easily? How will it help Indian football to grow faster & for player development?

It’s a great news for all the footballers. It’s great to have a longer season, like what happens in European countries. In that case, we are bound to be fit throughout the season. We can keep the momentum. It is going to have a positive impact on Indian football and our footballers. If we are involved in matches and trainings though most of the year, we can improve individually faster. It will help our football culture to grow as well, which is much required nowadays. I know, for that our workload will definitely increase. But on other hand, I guess, we’ll get more time for recovery between matches. It will help our physical ability to improve too. From every aspect, Indian football is going to improve a lot, if the season gets longer.       

Did you expect to get a call from the Indian team for the friendlies after a good Hero ISL season? Sum up that feeling.

To be honest, not really. As I did well in ISL, there was a little bit of hope of getting a call from the head coach of India. But I didn’t think, it would come so soon. Initially, I was little bit surprised to know that I have been called in the India camp, ahead of the AFC Asian Cup qualifiers. But gradually I realised, it really happened and I began to prepare myself physically and psychologically.

How disappointing was it that you had to leave the Indian camp due to chickenpox? Are you hopeful of getting a call again soon?

It was really disappointing because I was very hopeful about playing in the matches for India. But suddenly I got to know that I had to take rest being isolated for at least two to three weeks and can’t practice with the team. At that time, playing matches was far from my imagination. So, I decided to come back. Now my aim is to give my best in upcoming tournaments like Durand Cup, ISL and get a call again from Indian team. I have to work really hard for that.

What's your take on watching the Indian team winning three back-to-back matches to qualify for the Asian Cup 2023? What do you think are the expectations from the National team?

It was really great to watch them winning all the matches to qualify for the finals of Asian Cup 2023. Our team’s performance was awesome. Watching India’s matches, when I was not with the team, was different. But after getting involved with them, it was more fascinating to watch them play and win. Our team made a history by qualifying for this tournament for second time consecutively.

As I have been there in the camp for few days, I can tell you, this team has a very good atmosphere and everybody in the camp is so friendly to each other. There is no gap between seniors and juniors. We are a team, that’s all. It reflects in the performance.

There is one more year before the Asian Cup finals, I guess. If everyone in the team can work hard, keep their standard and form as it was during the qualifiers, if our players can play their heart out, we can get a very good result, I believe. We have quality players in every position. Everyone remains disciplined during the matches. That’s a plus point of our team. Everybody is always eager to do well on the pitch. Tendency of playing pressing football from the beginning and fighting till the last minute are other fantastic qualities of our team.

The trainers and physios of the team are so active, that every player is at his best in terms of fitness. That’s why our team played so well in the hot and humid condition in Kolkata. Our players can keep almost same stamina up to 90th minute, as a result of their effort. Therefore, the team is at the peak and it can still improve a lot before the finals next year.     

Coming back to Hero ISL, how was your experience of playing under Owen Coyle?

To be honest, playing under him was a blessing for me. He always wanted to remain together with everybody in the team. Everyday, he wanted us to do better. He wanted us to win every match and expected us to give our best in training sessions as well. He can inject that desire into his players to always do better. That’s why we always had that will to win every match last season.

Personally, he helped me a lot to improve my performance. I could take my standard higher because of him. He helped me identify the mistakes, guided me to rectify them perfectly. Like others, he always taught me what exactly to do in particular situations. I learnt a lot from him especially in terms of finishing. He even improved me as a human being. He has been so friendly to all the players. But he was never satisfied with anybody’s performance. He always wanted us to perform better in the next training sessions and matches. That’s why we improved a lot gradually during the league. 

Jamshedpur FC were in great form last season and you had a good season as well and expectations could be higher going into the new season. Do you think you have to handle more pressure this season than the last one?

Can’t talk about pressure specifically. But this is my own expectation to improve this season. I have that responsibility towards myself. I have to perform better than what I did last season. Have to run at least a kilometer more in every match. Have to reach the required position and the ball perfectly. Have to score more goals. I believe, every one of us has same plan.

If you want to talk about the whole team, I would say, the happiness we earned in last season was immense and we are eager to earn the same or more this season as well. For that, we have to give 110 percent. There will be some extra motivation also from last season’s success, which will help us.      

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