The 21-year-old also opined that ISL has helped improve Indian football.

Defending champions Mumbai City FC will kick-off their Indian Super League (ISL) 2021-22 campaign by facing FC Goa on Monday. Led by new head coach Des Buckingham, the club made some substantial changes to their squad during the summer. Rahul Bheke, Apuia, Igor Angulo, Cassio Gabriel and Gurkirat Singh are among the new signings while Bartholomew Ogbeche, Hernan Santana and Adam Le Fondre among others left the club.

Ahead of Monday’s clash against the Gaurs, Apuia spoke to the ISL’s media team. Here are the excerpts from the interaction:

On the spotlight early in his career.

Apuia: I am very happy and lucky at the same time to perform like this at an early age and have the platform, I am very happy and am enjoying this spotlight because appreciation is what everyone wants and as a footballer, I am very happy.

Watch Full Interview here

How to deal with the pressures off the pitch

Apuia: To be honest, I am not a guy who is on social media too much. Of course, I have heard some (feedback). Some foreigners have come to after the games and said, ‘Hey, you’re a good player, you have the talent.’ I just say I am very happy to hear about that but at the same time, I know that I can play better and I want to improve myself. 

How’s it adapting to the ‘elite sportsman mentality’ with Mumbai City

Apuia: It’s always the same. When we join a club, our aim is always to win the title. It depends on how much we put in the effort. Especially with this club, we have a very strong squad. Everyone is a top player and is trying to win the trophy. A player’s mentality is always the same – trying to win and we are giving everything we have.

ISL’s contribution both on and off the pitch

Apuia: We are lucky that there is ISL because, financially we are improving and as a player, we are improving with the infrastructure and platform we are getting. Of course, there is always room for improvement. But, as an Indian football player, we are very lucky that we have ISL. 

How different has life been after the move to Mumbai City

Apuia: Everything is different since I have become a professional football player. My parents are butchers, they sell meat. They are not earning that much to provide us with everything. But, they gave everything to help me become a professional footballer. That is why I am here, I want to thank them. Since I have joined Mumbai City, with the contract and all, they are very happy and everything has just changed. 

On coach Des Buckingham

Apuia: To be honest, he is a positive guy and he wants us to improve and from what I have seen, he is a coach who wants to build up and fast football. From where is coming, the intensity is very high. I think he is a very good coach. 

How will the mandatory 7 Indians in playing XI from ISL 2021-22 help Indian football

Apuia: It is a very good move for Indian players since there is always going to be one player more on the ground. If they have more game time, they will improve, which is the most important for footballers. This will improve the Indian players as well as the national team.

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