Not considering himself a youngster anymore, Thapa wants Chennaiyin to kick off season in style

Two-time champions Chennaiyin FC kick off their 2020-21 Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) campaign against Jamshedpur FC at the Tilak Maidan Stadium in Vasco on Tuesday, and midfielder Anirudh Thapa wants the team to hit the ground running despite unsatisfactory preparations on account of the ongoing pandemic.

"We are staying in a bubble and to be honest it is very difficult because we are doing the same thing every day and we can’t do anything else.

"We can’t interact with others and we can't go outside the area that has been allotted.

"It is difficult to stay like this for five months. Also, for the last six months, during the lockdown, we’ve been staying in the same place. We haven’t been able to go out or train or do anything like this. And now we are in a bubble and it is difficult for us as a player.

"But we need to stay focused on our matches and do well. We need to start and finish off the season on a good note and do as much good stuff as you can,” the 22-year-old told ahead of the game.

Thapa, who has been with Chennaiyin FC since 2016 and has scored three goals in 55 games besides providing nine assists, also spoke of his preferred playing position. "I like to play as a number 8. I like to start the game from behind and then move forward rather than waiting for the ball to come to me in the attacking third. I am more comfortable playing as a number 8.

"I have played this role for a very long time now, even during my youth days and at the national team. That is the position I love to play. But the [head] coach might want to put me in another position. If head coach Csaba Laszlo wants me to play as a 10 or elsewhere, I will play there," he said.

Talking about his long-term ambition, Thapa, who has played 24 games for the Indian national team too, revealed as to who he wants to emulate and even outdo over time.

"People call me young because of my age but to be honest, I don’t consider myself as young. I am playing with people like Rowllin [Borges] bhai in the national team. I want to be past that stage where I am [just] a talented youngster. I want to be like him. I want to be better than him. I feel he is one of the best midfielders in India and I want to improve myself and be the best,” he said. 


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