The NorthEast United right-back and youngsters Suresh and Apuia shared their thoughts after the game against Oman.

On Thursday, the Indian football team held Oman to a 1-1 draw in the International Friendly played out at the Maktoom Bin Rashid Stadium in Dubai. Manvir Singh’s headed goal saved India from defeat after Chinglensana Singh scored an unfortunate own-goal. After the game, debutants Suresh Singh Wangjam, Lalengmawia and Ashutosh Mehta spoke to the media.

The first taste of international football

“The game was very fast-paced. Coach Igor Stimac had told us not to slip for even a second, to remain focused always and to watch our man. I think we executed our coach’s commands well,” Wangjam began when asked about how he felt on his debut game.

“People say this is the ‘new India.’ It was a great feeling for us to take that responsibility. The goal which we scored came from open play,” he further added. Lalengmawia also admitted that the intensity of the match was high. “It was quite difficult because the intensity was very high. The opponents were a strong side. They were exerting a lot of pressure on us and things became more difficult than I had expected. Regardless, it was a good experience,” the midfielder commented.

Mehta, meanwhile, revealed how he had waited for 12 years for his debut. “It’s been a 12-year-long wait for this opportunity. I am really, really delighted to make my debut. It’s every player’s dream to play for the nation and represent its people,” he said.

Wangjam & Lalengmawia’s partnership

Manvir Singh’s strike earned India a hard-fought stalemate against Oman

While this was both players’ first appearance in the senior international circuit, the duo has played together previously and was hence very familiar with each other’s movements on the pitch.

“We have been acting in tandem for a while now. We have been together in the same team for the past few years. I think it was in 2016 that we both got into the India U-16 team. Later we played in the U-17 team, U-19 team and so on. We were also together at Indian Arrows,” Wangjam revealed.

“It felt good to play together for the senior team tonight,” he further added, while Lalengmawia said, “I would like to continue this partnership for as long as possible.”

Mehta’s thoughts on game

The NorthEast United right-back opened up on how Igor Stimac gave him enough confidence ahead of the clash against Oman.

“Just before the game, coach Stimac called me to his room and he gave me a lot of confidence. He told me to have faith in myself and assured me that I have all the characteristics necessary to play at the highest levels, which made me very confident,” he said. The 30-year-old further added, “Oman is a top side, but of course, we wanted to win against them. The boys played with so much personality and character. Of course, there’s always room for improvement. Onwards and upwards from here.”

Ashutosh Mehta concluded by sharing his two cents on the Blue Tigers’ upcoming fixture against UAE. “India is not going anywhere without a fight,” he signed off.

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