Hero Super Cup

Ritwik Das: I can never forget my India debut in Imphal

Khel Now

April 23 2023
Ritwik Das

Jamshedpur FC’s top scorer reflected on the season and his India debut.

It has been an eventful 2022-23 season for Ritwik Das. With six goals, the 26-year-old was the top-scorer for Jamshedpur FC in the Hero ISL and made his much-awaited debut for the Indian National Team in March. But it’s difficult to relish personal success when your club hasn’t performed as per expectations.

Jamshedpur ended up in 10th place in the Hero ISL and were knocked out of the Hero Super Cup after a 0-2 loss to Bengaluru FC in the semi-final on Friday. “After a difficult season in the ISL, we started well in the Super Cup – won all three games and topped the group. When you’re in such good form and get defeated like this, it’s tough to take,” said Ritwik.

Dream Super Cup run

From winning just five games and scoring 21 goals in the ISL to registering three scintillating group-stage victories over FC Goa (5-3), ATK Mohun Bagan (3-0) and Gokulam Kerala FC (3-2) in the Super Cup, it was a huge transformation for Jamshedpur. Even in the semi-final, Jamshedpur were on top in the first half, with Ritwik the orchestrator of most of their attacks down the left wing. However, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu’s heroics in the Bengaluru goal kept them at bay.

Then, Jayesh Rane’s second-half header didn’t just break the deadlock for the Blues, but also Jamshedpur’s fighting spirit as they failed to replicate their attacking flair, which had carried them so far in the tournament. “Hard luck that we missed some good scoring opportunities. The elimination is a tough one for me personally after such a good spell in the Super Cup,” said Ritwik, who bagged an assist in each of the three group-stage games.

“After winning the League Winners’ Shield last year and qualifying for the ISL semi-finals for the first time, we also had high expectations this time. But it was disappointing to miss out on the top six. But we’re sure we will come back stronger next year,” he added.

Continuous learning curve

Talking about his personal development as a winger, a position with high competition in the modern game, Ritwik said, “Playing in the ISL against some of the best Indian and foreign players has helped me develop my game. I do make mistakes. I’m not perfect, and I’m always trying to learn.”

Being a part of the National Team has also been a massive learning experience for Ritwik. He was first picked for the camp in May last year but couldn’t make his debut. The big moment finally arrived last month when he came on as a substitute in India’s 1-0 win over Myanmar in the Hero Tri-Nation Series. “It was amazing being there in Imphal with the support we received. The stadium was fully packed even before we reached there. I can never forget my India debut in Imphal,” he said.

With a lot of tournaments lined up for the Blue Tigers in the rest of the year ahead of the big one – the AFC Asian Cup in January, Ritwik will be keen to maintain his place in the national squad.

“I want to keep improving myself, prove myself and get more game time and give my best to help India win every competition we play in,” he stated.

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