Anirudh Thapa: ‘My job is to help others score’

In an interview with AIFF, Anirudh Thapa, India’s 20-year-old midfielder, shares some thoughts about the AFC Asian Cup 2019, his playing position, and his career.

File Photo: Anirudh Thapa is looking forward to the AFC Asian Cup 2019.   -  ISL/SPORTZPICS

The key to realising its potential at the AFC Asian Cup 2019, the Indian football team needs play united as a team, according to 20-year-old midfielder Anirudh Thapa.

In an interview with AIFF, Thapa shared some thoughts about the upcoming tourney, his playing position, and his career.

Assessing the upcoming challenge in the UAE, Thapa said, “UAE will be the toughest team in our group as they are hosts. They possess a lot of quality. Thailand and Bahrain will also present their own set of challenges. But we are ready for it. We need to play united as a team, and aim to overcome the adversity.”

Thapa admitted he liked to score goals. “I like to attack and play forward. It is my job to help others score. I like to have the ball at my feet and create chances. Everybody wants to score goals. I am no different but my first priority is to help the forwards.”

‘Learning experience’

Reflecting on the friendly between India and Jordan in Saudi Arabia, a contest that ended in a 2-1 defeat, Thapa said, “Playing as a striker in a depleted squad was extremely challenging for me, and the team. Given the circumstances, we put up a decent enough performance. The match against Oman (a goalless draw in Abu Dhabi) was also a learning experience.”

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He added, “Playing alongside Pronoy [Halder] has helped me immensely. Now I can go forward because I know he will protect the back, and will take care of the space I leave. I can now play with a lot more freedom than I used to.”

‘Hard and challenging’ journey

Thapa credited the AIFF Academy to help him improve his football skills and make a name for himself. He said, “The AIFF Academy has helped me immensely in my career. I am here because of the way I was brought up through the system. The journey has been very hard and challenging but it has been worth it.”

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He added, “When I was 14, I challenged myself to see if I could play with 16-year-olds. When I was 16, I challenged myself to play with 19-year-olds and so on. Every day is a challenge for you. That’s what I was taught.”

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