KOLKATA: Representing the national capital in the I-League 2020-21, Sudeva Delhi FC are gearing up for their maiden campaign in the competition with an all-Indian lineup, which includes promising 19-year-old forward Manvir Singh.
"It's a great opportunity for us as our squad has all Indian players, who are ready to show what we can do together as a team. Competing in the I-League is going to be challenging but also exciting at the same time. It's a great chance for me to get some game time and also to learn from other players in the team who are equally talented. I think we all can make a difference together," the young gun told I-League's official website.
Manvir, who was part of the junior India side that lifted the SAFF U-18 Championship title in Nepal last year, added, "My main aim is to get as much time as possible and start for the team in every match and help them win games. It will be challenging to play without foreigners but at the same time, it's a great opportunity for everyone at the club to improve themselves and showcase their talent on the national stage. The competition is going to be very tough but we're looking forward to it."
The Delhi-based side has been training hard ahead of its debut campaign ever since the lockdown restrictions were lifted and leading the side will be head coach Chencho Dorji, who is the first Bhutanese coach to take charge of the I-League club ever.
"Training has been good so far and we are getting back to the same fitness level that we had before the pandemic. All my teammates are great and as we have been staying together for the past three months. We have got to know each other well and this time together has helped us form a strong bond," the striker said.
"Our coach has been very good to us and helps us a lot in understanding how to play together as a team. He pushes me every day as he believes in my scoring ability," Manvir quipped.
Sudeva Delhi FC will kick off their campaign as they take on newly-promoted Mohammedan SC in the league opener on January 9, 2021, at the iconic Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan (VYBK) in Kolkata and according to their young striker, there will be no extra pressure on his side being new entrants.
"I don't think there is any pressure on us. With all the Indian players, we can do something good this season and make Delhiites proud. It won't be easy as we are playing for the first time but this is a wonderful opportunity for us to show what we can do," he added.
The upcoming campaign will be Manvir's second in the Hero I-League, with him having featured eight times for the All India Football Federation's developmental side Indian Arrows last season. He credited his coaches at Arrows -- former India internationals Venkatesh Shanmugam and Mahesh Gawali -- for helping him 'develop', besides talking about the prospect of facing his old team in the coming season.
"The previous season was my first in the I-League and it helped me a lot to improve. Also, Venky-sir (Venkatesh) & Mahesh-sir both helped me a lot during my time with the Arrows to develop as a player and grow -- both on and off the field. I would like to thank the Arrows team and management for being so supportive."
"Yes, it will be an emotional feeling playing against them as I have been with the team and I know most of the players and staff there but at the same time, I'm looking forward to playing against them and wish to get a win for my new team -- Sudeva Delhi FC," Manvir concluded.