Akash Mishra: Feeling on the ground with national anthem playing is beyond explanation

Not many young players have had a debut season in Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) history like Hyderabad FC left-back Akash Mishra has had in the 2020-21 campaign. Although the Telangana-based club missed out on for the semi-finals by a whisker, the performances of their young stars caught the attention of many. Mishra, in particular, excelled for his side with his pacey forward runs and his ability to battle against many experienced opposition attackers when required. And in a matter of months, he is a star.

The youngster was a regular member of Hyderabad FC’s back four and played every minute of football for them in the season gone by. He was also given the prestigious Emerging-Player-of-the-Month award for January. Born in Balrampur in Uttar Pradesh, Mishra bagged one assist for his team besides coming up with 80 tackles, 48 clearances and 37 blocks over the course of the season. He also ranked third in terms of interceptions (55), just behind Stephen Eze of Jamshedpur FC (60) and Rowllin Borges of Mumbai City FC (57) -- pretty impressive for a player playing in his first season.

However, the 19-year-old, by his own admission, did not expect to have such a prominent role in his first season with the club. “When I joined Hyderabad FC, I thought that there were more senior players who will get the opportunity to play because it was my first season and that I have to learn from them,” the left-back told All Balls on YouTube.

The youngster added: “Everyone advised me to concentrate on my own game. They told me to believe in myself and give my best. Guidance like this really helped me a lot when I joined Hyderabad FC. It motivated me to do well and improve myself this season.”

Manuel Marquez’s faith in Indian players, especially the youngsters, was also appreciated by Mishra as he spoke of the Hyderabad FC head coach in glowing terms.  “...He is a very good coach, but also a very nice person. He always gives confidence to young players. If you see Hyderabad FC, we have many young players. I also like that he doesn’t see whether a player is a foreigner or an Indian. Sometimes he chose Indian players over foreigners. That is the best part of him,” he said.

Although Mishra was unable to help Hyderabad FC into the top four, his strong performances did not go unnoticed by national team coach Igor Stimac who called him up for the international friendlies against Oman and the United Arab Emirates in Dubai. And now Mishra has two international caps to his name, having started both of the Blue Tigers’ friendlies recently.

Sharing his thoughts on representing the national team, the youngster said: “It’s is a very nice feeling. I think when the national anthem is playing, the feeling that you get on the ground, it is beyond explanation. I have played for India’s junior sides but now my main goal is to be regularly in the senior national team. I will do whatever I have to do for that, especially improve myself so that I can be a part of the team.”

 

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