Filipino nationalist and polymath Jose Rizal once said – The youth is the hope of our future.
The saying still holds true. The extra shelf life and the unbridled exuberance that the youth possess is a prize. Football, the game, is no different. Khel Now has time and again brought you closer to the young stars from the country and here, we get into a conversation with the captain of the India U-19 team and the Indian Arrows project – Amarjit Singh Kiyam.
Still just 17, Kiyam has walked the team out against France, Venezuela, Croatia and Argentina among others. A win against Argentina, a draw against Venezuela and a close loss against France was superseded by a 5-1 loss to Croatia. Speaking on the dreadful first half that saw the U-19s concede four times Kiyam said, “We tried a little too much to take the attack to them, leaving gaps behind. They used the spaces well and thus, scored four times against us, with their quality. It was a learning curve, though.”
The defensive midfielder, who styles his game like Sergio Busquets from FC Barcelona, was mildly criticised for operating too deep last season. Will that change this time around? “Yes,” says the youngster who walked India out during the FIFA U-17 World Cup, “I’ll play a lot more forward, as we’re looking to attack more this time around. You can expect me to play higher up.”
A fan of Eugeneson Lyngdoh from closer home, Kiyam also suggested that its better for young players to stay with the Arrows’ project. “The AIFF is helping us a lot in our development, with a lot of playing time. We can easily go to brighter pastures in the future, but at our age, while other players are playing youth leagues, we’re playing against some of the best clubs in the country. Thus, staying at the Arrows was an easy decision for me.”
The player, who was on the radar of several Indian Super League clubs before finally tying the knot with Jamshedpur FC, says that the team are working hard for a top five finish in the I-League table. He adds with a hint of caution, “It is going to be very difficult though. This year, I think, the quality of the sides is better than the last season.”
Certainly. The captain, though, did not disclose the defensive shape. Coach Floyd Pinto has time and again shifted from four-at-the-back to three-at-the-back, but Amarjit refused to comment on this. However, Khel Now sources close to the squad believe the team is going to start in a regular 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3 shape, something that was used extensively by former head coach Luis Norton de Matos.
“Luis Norton was a little more defensive, while Pinto is more attacking,” opines Amarjit, who cost over ₹1 crore to the Tata Group-owned club. “This season, we’re going to play more attacking football and go for results. We were a little overawed by the debut season, but this time, we’re better prepared with cohesiveness and strength in the team.”
Gurkirat Singh, Rohit Dhanu, Lalbiakhlua Jongte and Vikram Pratap Singh have joined the squad after impressing at the AFC U-16 Championship, where the team reached the quarterfinals and narrowly lost to South Korea 1-0. These players, according to Kiyam, will add quality to the squad and have made the nation proud with good games and positive results.
Indian Arrows begin their I-league journey on 26th October, facing Chennai City away. Interestingly, these sides opened their campaign against each other last year as well and the Arrows trounced City 3-0. Will we see an encore?