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FIFA World Cup Qualifiers

Grateful to coach for appreciating my efforts, says new call-up Edmund Lalrindika

Published at :May 19, 2024 at 9:55 PM
Modified at :May 19, 2024 at 9:55 PM
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(Courtesy : AIFF)

Khel Now

Edmund Lalrindika has revealed when he will travel to Canada to train with Atletico Ottawa.

Edmund Lalrindika burst forward on the left, shook off a stern challenge from Anirudh Thapa and laced a fierce left-footed shot past Gurpreet Singh Sandhu‘s near post as if it’s no big deal and he does that every evening. It’s his first senior national team camp but feels like he has been part of the team for years already. Not often do you see no nerves, full focus and such confidence oozing out of a first-timer.

“It’s been really great. I enjoy training a lot with the top players in the country,” said the 25-year-old after a week of rubbing shoulders with India’s best in Bhubaneswar.

It might be Lalrindika’s first outing with the senior team, but he’s no stranger to the India jersey. He first wore it at the 2013 SAFF U16 Championship, winning the title in Nepal. The forward was later part of the 2014 AFC U16 Championship Qualifiers, the 2017 SAFF U18 Championship and the 2018 SAFF U19 Championship Qualifiers. As such, there are a few players who he has played alongside for more than a decade, making him feel at home in the camp. But he understands the enormous difference between playing for your country at the youth level and the senior level.

“Yeah, it’s really different comparing the youth and senior teams, but as I grew up playing for the youth team, I know most of the players and the coaching staff. That helps me a lot as a player to adapt and I’m looking forward to working with them.”

The reason Lalrindika finds himself in the Odisha capital and not at his home in Lunglei in Mizoram at this time of the year is his spectacular performance with Inter Kashi this season. He registered six goals and nine assists in all competitions for the newly-formed club, playing every single match and helping them to a solid fourth-place finish in the I-League.

“It’s been the best season of my career so far. I want to thank the club and the management for their support and trust in me. It was one of the reasons that I got called for the national team, so I’m grateful for that and I will give my everything to not let them down,” thanked Lalrindika.

Revealing the moment he received the news of his call-up, Lalrindika said, “I got a phone call from my team Inter Kashi and they told me I’m selected in the probables squad list and congratulated me. The first thing I did was pray to God and thank him for the opportunity. All I can do is work hard, give my very best, and try to make it to the final squad (for the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers against Kuwait and Qatar).

India head coach Igor Stimac stated that he and assistant coach Mahesh Gawali had been keeping an eye on Lalrindika for the last few months and he impressed them enough to earn a call-up.

“He (Stimac) came to watch one of our (Inter Kashi‘s) games, and after the match, he was kind enough to meet me and told me to keep working hard and keep pushing myself. I’m really grateful to the coach for his appreciation of my efforts and I want to thank him for this opportunity,” said Lalrindika.

“He is a really great guy, talks to everyone and makes them feel very comfortable. As a newcomer, it helps a lot and I’m happy, honoured, excited and ready to make an impact if my name is called for the final squad.”

A versatile forward, Lalrindika can and has played in multiple positions in attack, but his preferred spot is the left-wing – a position that has always seen plenty of competition under Stimac’s reign.

“Left-wing is my favourite position and I think my strongest attribute is my creativity. I like to dribble, take on defenders, lots of 1v1s, and create chances. But my mentality is always to put the team first, think how I can help the team, so I’m ready to do my part.”

Lalrindika has plenty of big things to look forward to as well, not just in national colours, but on international soil too. Last month, his club Inter Kashi announced that he is set to train with Canadian Premier League side Atlético Ottawa in preparation for the upcoming season.

Shedding more light on the development, he said, “After the national team camp, hopefully, my visa will come and I’ll go to Canada. The duration of my stay and contract will depend on my visa once I reach there. The people from Atlético Madrid (owners of Atlético Ottawa) were very helpful and motivating. They shared their complete plan with me and I am really looking forward to it.  I would really like to thank my club Inter Kashi, the coach, the management, and my fellow players for their support and belief in me. Without them, it would not have been possible.”

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