An admirer of Sunil Chhetri, Manvir Singh says he is trying to pick a thing or two from his India captain

Manvir Singh is totally awestruck by fellow striker and India captain Sunil Chhetri. And why shouldn’t he be? At the age of 36, Chhetri is as potent as ever in front of goal and demonstrated that earlier this week by scoring a brace in India’s 2-0 win against Bangladesh in their 2022 FIFA World Cup and 2023 AFC Asian Cup qualifier at the Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium in Doha.

“My job becomes easier when I play alongside top strikers. I just watch Sunil-bhai and try to imitate his calm in front of goal. At the end of the day, that ice-cool head makes all the difference. That’s education for me. In a match a striker won’t get a million chances.

“There will be days when you will get just one chance, or maybe a half chance. If you are able to make it count, you have done your job. I also need to mention that I look up to Roy Krishna’s calm in front of goal. They are my heroes,” ATK Mohun Bagan’s Manvir said in an interview with the AIFF Media Team.

It may come as a surprise to some but Manvir’s father back in the day played against Chhetri, which indicates what a tremendous, long career the India skipper has had to date. 25-year-old Manvir is looking to learn the longevity secret from India’s highest goal-scorer in international football with 74 goals.

“My dad Kuldip Singh who played for PSEB as a striker and scored quite a few goals in the Federation Cup, Durand Cup and the IFA Shield besides a host of other tournaments always mentions to me, to learn from Sunil-bhai the art of his longevity. In fact, he had played against him, and always tells me, ‘When you are seeing him from close, learn as much as you can. Sunil’s speciality is that he has been there for so long. And that is extremely hard work.’

“Being around him, I have already taken my baby steps. The rest is for me to sustain, and improve,” he said.

Manvir, who had a couple of good scoring opportunities in India’s match against Qatar last week but couldn’t make the most of them, also stressed the importance of flexibility and multi-tasking in today’s football. “At the outset, I was an out-and-out striker. But a player needs to be flexible. Modern-day football is not just about sticking to one position and role. I have been playing on the wings – both on the right wing and left wing in recent times. I feel that has helped me understand the dynamics of a team’s attacking philosophy. It is a plus point for any player,” he said.

High on confidence after the three points in the last game, India now play Afghanistan on June 15 in what will be their last game of the second round. However, Manvir insists the team is not thinking too much about the win against Bangladesh heading into the upcoming tie on Tuesday.

“We need to sustain the momentum gathered in the match against Bangladesh and even in the 0-1 loss against Qatar. But everyone is aware that all of that is past. The match on 15th is a fresh canvas. We need to paint it the right manner. The coach [Igor Stimac] has been constantly working with us. We need to pay him back,” he said.


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