The story of the 23-year-old from the I-League Second Division to the national team is quite an inspirational one and he believes it is all down to hard work.
With Igor Stimac at the helm, the Indian national team has been in a great run of form. Despite fielding a handful of youngsters like Manvir Singh, the Croatian has succeeded in bringing out the best potential of the team.
It was a delight to watch a team with a band of budding young players taking on some of the best on the continent. The preliminary round of the FIFA World Cup 2022 Qualifiers came at a crucial juncture and the games against Oman and hosts Qatar brought a series of positives.
Previously, a tough campaign in the Hero Intercontinental Cup saw questions being raised about the capabilities of the young side. A prominent question amongst all being, ‘Who will carry forward the legacy of Sunil Chhetri?’
The game against Qatar in the Qualifiers proved to be a huge test for the whole team, with an in-form Ashique Kuruniyan and Chhetri himself being ruled out due to injury concerns.
Stimac handed a start to Manvir Singh, who had last scored for the country against Pakistan in the semi-finals of the SAFF Championship in 2018. Yet to fully adapt to the new system, the 23-year-old had a fair idea that this was his chance to prove his worth to the team.
The optimism to compete for the central position is a good sign
And what a performance it was by the forward! Manvir didn’t have to score to be rated as one of the best on the pitch that evening. Rather, he played a more tactical role holding the ball. The striker made great use of his strength to hold off a mighty opposition and displayed immaculate distribution skills.
Gurpreet Singh Sandhu’s excellence in goal against the Qataris might have been the reason for Manvir’s efforts go unnoticed, but Stimac must be really proud of the forward.
However, for Manvir Singh, the journey had begun way back when he accompanied his father- a former Santosh Trophy, Durand Cup and Federation Cup player, to the local games in his hometown in Punjab.
“I used to play alongside my father in my village and always grew up watching him,” said Manvir, during a recent interaction with Khel Now. “I am what I am today, because of my father.”
“I remember, I had scored against Minerva Punjab during a Punjab Super League game whilst I played for JCT and that was the time I realized I should consider football as a career,” continued Manvir as he explained the beginning of his professional career,” he recalled.
This was the time when the forward joined the youth ranks at Minerva Punjab. From there he went on to represent Mohammedan SC in the I-League Second Division and West Bengal in the Santosh Trophy. During the 2017 final of the Santosh Trophy, Manvir scored the winning goal against Goa.
His performance in the tournament was tracked by many and Manvir finally got his breakthrough in the Indian Super League (ISL), when FC Goa came calling.
At a very young age, Manvir began fighting for a place in the starting lineup and it was never an easy task with Ferran Corominas as his competitor for the role. But, the player vows to keep working hard and is optimistic of cementing his place in the starting XI this season.
Moreover, he also appreciated the coaching style of Sergio Lobera, point out how it is similar to the style adopted by Stimac and that it has helped him a lot in improving as a player. “Since the style of play here at FC Goa is similar to that of the national team, I find it much easier to groom into the team and I am sure it will help the other players to adapt too.”
Moving on, Manvir discussed the chances of the Blue Tigers in the WC Qualifiers, especially after a historic draw against Qatar. “It was a great result for us and I consider it as a big achievement.”
“However, that one point will only matter if we win our next game against Bangladesh and that is what we are looking forward to,” said the frontman while concluding.