Amrinder Singh: Focus is on ball, not on Chhetri

Manuel Neuer fan and ISL Golden Glove awardee last season, Mumbai City FC star Amrinder Singh talks about career highs with Bengaluru FC in 2016, on the eve of Indian Super League 2017 opening away game against BFC.

“I deal with the ball flying towards the goal. There have been occasions when after making a save, I don’t remember who took the shot, because the striker is not my focus, the ball always is.” File photo   -  ISL/SPORTZPICS

Manuel Neuer fan and ISL Golden Glove awardee last season, Mumbai City FC star Amrinder Singh talks about career highs with Bengaluru FC in 2016, on the eve of Indian Super League 2017 opening away game against BFC. Edited excerpts:

Question: Being chosen as ISL 2016 best goalkeeper (Golden Glove awardee) last season, do you feel the weight of expectations?

Answer: I am not thinking about last season’s award. My focus is on training for this season, give my 110 per cent. Winning the Golden Glove then was the outcome of good momentum, it makes little difference now. Latest performance matters, I am following my coach’s plan.

What is your thoughts on Sunil Chhetri?

Facing tough teams motivates me, I feel more confident. My way of playing is to focus on the ball, not on the striker taking the shot. Chhetri may be in front of me, Jeje Lalpekhlua or Balwant Singh… I have nothing to do with them, I deal with the ball flying towards the goal. There have been occasions when after making a save, I don’t remember who took the shot, because the striker is not my focus, the ball always is.

What helped you perform well last year, for Mumbai City FC?

I was playing for Bengaluru FC, represented the team at the AFC Cup final, before moving to Mumbai City and adjusting quickly to a new steup. Playing the AFC Cup final (BFC versus Air Force Club, Iraq) was a great feeling, no Indian club reached that stage before. It was an exciting time for us. The Indian national team is also doing well at AFC level, we need to continue doing that.

Do Indian players get noticed by Asian coaches, now that BFC, under a foreign coach, qualified for the AFC Cup final?

When we played tournaments in Asia earlier, teams did not know about Indian players or Indian clubs. Now an Indian football club has an identity, following BFC advancing to the final in an Asian club competition.

Which season has been your most successful?

Every season has been a learning experience. Playing for Bengaluru FC was the most productive, under goalkeeping coach Ali Uzunhasanoglu. I talked to the strikers, about what goes on in their mind when they approach the target. Later when I came to ISL, playing in front of packed stadiums in Kerala and Bengal drove me to become sharper.

Which goalkeeper do you look upto?

Germany’s Manuel Neuer. I like his style, very active on the pitch, always supporting the team defence, comes out of the box confidently. Neuer’s shot-stopping is excellent. I follow him on television whenever I can.

Foreign coaches in ISL signed Indian goalkeepers. MCFC has three local goalkeepers. Your thoughts…

During the draft, most foreign coaches picked the Indian goalkeeper first, followed by players in other positions. Results show that Indians in goal are seen as performers, even the younger ones coming through the ranks. I feel happy for Indian football.

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