Dhanpal Ganesh: 'Not going to the Asian Cup hard to accept'

Dhanpal Ganesh, the Chennaiyin FC midfielder recovering from a knee injury, aims to be be fully fit in time for the Super Cup.

Dhanpal Ganesh: "I am on my way to recovering completely and I’ll surely be back in action soon." File Photo: Biswaranjan Rout

Dhanpal Ganesh, the Chennaiyin FC midfielder, is disappointed not to be able to play for his club and the Indian team while he recovers from a knee injury which he suffered during the club's pre-season camp in Malaysia.

Speaking on the sidelines of the launch of an inter-school, junior football tournament on Friday, Dhanpal admitted the period of recuperation has been tough for him.

“I cannot tell specifically when I’ll return from injury. I’ll have to consult the doctor, and generally, injuries may or may not heal quickly. I am on my way to recovering completely and I’ll surely be back in action soon. I have started running and I am about two months away from starting to train normally with the team. I haven’t planned my return date yet, but I am working with the help of Centre for Sports Science (CSS) and the physios at Chennaiyin FC, and my target is to be fit in time for the Super Cup,” he said.

Staying away ‘very hard’

Asked to comment on Chennaiyin’s season so far, the 27-year-old said, “For me, it’s very hard to not be helping my team. Firstly, I want to say sorry to the coach [John Gregory] because I have not been able to contribute in any way this season. We cannot say that we will win [the title] every season and according to the club’s history, we have won the title every other year. We have lost matches in the ISL due to some bad luck, but we still have the Super Cup to come. We must turn our attention to that competition and try to do well.

“My dream was to go to the AFC Asian Cup [with the India football team]. I was happy to contribute and help the team qualify for the tournament, but not going to the Asian Cup is hard to accept.”

Dhanpal Ganesh (second from left) at the launch of a football tournament in Chennai on Friday. Photo: Special Arrangement

 

Dhanpal said he is not bothered by the managerial change in the national team and is thankful for what he learnt from Stephen Constantine. “The managerial change in the national team does not bother me. I was happy to play under him [Constantine] and I learnt a lot. My aim is to perform in ISL and let the selection process take care of itself; I am confident of returning to the national squad soon,” he said.

NEWS, VIEW AND MORE, FROM AFC ASIAN CUP 2019

Dhanpal echoed the popular opinion in the aftermath of India’s exit from the Asian Cup, that the Blue Tigers performed admirably in the continental showpiece. “The team played really well, though it exited the competition because of a last-minute penalty. India played well in each of the three matches, and the performances were an improvement [from the last time the team played in the Asian Cup, in 2011].”

‘Dream club’

Commenting on the renewal of his contract with Chennaiyin, Dhanpal said, “Chennaiyin is my dream club and I am happy to have extended my contract with the club for another three years, until 2022. It is something I am really proud of and I’d like to thank the owners of Chennaiyin FC, the manager and the management.”

Chennaiyin FC launches inter-school football tournament

Chennaiyin FC, on Friday, launched an inter-school, Under-13 and Under-15 football tournament at the Centre for Sports Science (CSS), inside the Sri Ramachandra Medical Centre (SRMC).

The tournament, which is tentatively set to begin on January 28 at the MCC School ground in Chetpet, will be contested by 64 teams, 32 in the Under-13 category and 32 in the Under-15 category, and will be held over four weeks. This competition is akin to the inter-school T20 cricket tournament which has been organised by Chennai Super Kings, called the Junior Super Kings inter-school T20 championship, since 2012.

Dhanpal said, “Tournaments like this didn’t exist when we were playing at the junior level. It’s a great opportunity for youngsters from Tamil Nadu to catch the eye of scouts and potentially go on to play for Chennaiyin FC and even the national team.”

Chennaiyin FC’s assistant coach and technical director for youth development, Syed Sabir Pasha, said, “The ultimate objective is to have budding talent from this tournament absorbed into the youth teams’ pyramid underneath the Chennaiyin FC first team that comprises the U-13s, U-15s, U-18s and ‘B’ team.

The top three teams from the tournament will get access to coaching from the club's coaching staff and select first-team players.