The last international break of the Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24 campaign is upon us, with India set to square off against Afghanistan twice in the FIFA World Cup 2026 Qualifiers this month. As the national team continues to strengthen its bid of making it to the quadrennial competition, focus will be on Odisha FC goalkeeper Amrinder Singh who will be keen on the goalkeeping slot of the Blue Tigers.

Amrinder has made 13 appearances for the senior Indian team since debuting in 2017. He has been a trusted No. 2 over the years. Having kept the most clean sheets (8) so far in ISL 2023-24, he will visibly be eyeing donning a similar role on a more consistent basis for the national team.

You can download the video and watch him speak here.: https://we.tl/t-GSYRtTiZ1I  (Courtesy: FSDL/ISL)

 

"My target is to keep working hard to get a spot in the national team”

“My target is to improve myself, keep working hard and get a spot in the team. Every player dreams of playing for the national team,” said Amrinder says about his aspirations for the National team goalkeeping position.

Born in Mahilpur, Punjab, Amrinder has worked up the ranks in the last decade. His growth in Indian football has been synonymous to that of the ISL. The custodian first represented Pune FC to kick off his professional career. In the ISL, he went on to have stints with Bengaluru FC, Mumbai City FC, and the Mohun Bagan Super Giant, before his current spell with Odisha FC.

He won the I-League and Federation Cup with Bengaluru FC, before doing the league double as the captain of Mumbai City FC in 2020-21. Amrinder also clinched the Super Cup with Odisha FC last season, winning the Golden Glove in the process. Having progressed from a humble background, Amrinder talks in great depth about the overcoming challenges earlier on in life and the way ISL has helped young Indian footballers and their parents’ dream of a financially viable career in football.

 

"Parents are confident of their kids making a career in football due to the ISL”

“We have grown up playing in narrow lanes from our villages. There is no ball left in my house that I have not kicked and broken something with. Of course, it’s important that you need to work hard when you are young, and gradually explore options and platforms that give you an opportunity to move forward in your career,” Amrinder said.

He added, “As a kid, you don’t think about money. In the end, you have to take care of your family. ISL has helped us improve so much in that factor. When I look at the academy kids in the ISL, all the parents believe that there is a future in football also, and this is a change that means a lot. Most of the parents know that if their kids don’t play cricket, they can play football, and that their future will be safe.”

Having been associated with the ISL since 2015, Amrinder has been one of the earliest beneficiaries of the foreign exposure that the league has provided to players. Manu Patricio is the goalkeeping coach of Odisha FC. Hailing from Argentina, he brings his own sets of expertise to the table that Amrinder is benefitting from. Similarly, Spaniard Juanma Cruz was the goalkeeping coach of the Islanders when Amrinder led Mumbai City FC to both the ISL League Winners Shield and the ISL trophy in 2020-21. The player claims to have learned abundantly from these tacticians.

 

“Foreign expertise helps a lot”

“When you have good coaches and players, they help you a lot. In the first few seasons, we used to have foreign goalkeepers; we got information and inputs from them. They helped us a lot, which was very important. Goalkeeping is all about training. Good coaches and players make you play better. To be honest, international goalkeepers helped me a lot. Having an international goalkeeping coach is extremely important as well,” he said.

“ISL is one of the major platforms to build players. All teams have academies, and it’s really helping all Indian youngsters to develop and to progress to play for the senior teams. Whenever they play with new coaches and foreigners, the quality of Indian football has become so high, as compared to before. ISL is growing really well and in the right direction. With more teams joining every season, the league is doing well. So many young players have come up because of the ISL. Foreign coaches teach you to think quickly, and it encourages me that we will see more success in the coming years,” he further added about the importance of the ISL ecosystem and the role it has played in shaping Indian football over the last decade.

Amrinder played an essential role in helping get Odisha FC to the inter-zonal semi-finals of the AFC Cup this year. As of now, Odisha FC is stuck in a tricky situation in the league table. Aiming for the League Winners Shield, the Juggernauts are four points behind (35) league leaders Mumbai City FC (39), having played a game fewer (18) than the Islanders (19). Having dropped seven points out of a possible 15 in their last five matches, the Sergio Lobera-coached side will have to get their act together soon, with Amrinder playing a pivotal role in the same.

ISL returns to action on March 30, 2024, after the international break for the national team’s World Cup qualifiers.