Humidity in Antalya, where the Gloria Sports Arena is located, is similar to India during the ISL months. It will help us during competition. Everything was within walking distance, the gymnasium, the pool and the training grounds. Even the foreign players in our squad mentioned that training in such a good facility was new to them. Last year in Fiorentina, the team made a bus journey to reach the training base. I feel these two factors — climate and location — were different from the 2014 pre-season.
We are better prepared this time, after the pre-season training camp in Turkey. Manchester City used the same facility earlier. Massimo Battara, the former goalkeeping coach at Manchester City, was patient with us goalkeepers (Arindam, Lalit Thapa and Steven Simonsen are the three custodians in the squad). I feel technically better now and want to perform for my team. Last season I played 11 matches and am excited to be one of the six players retained. We were better than the final placing (sixth). We were third with two matches remaining but slipped down.
I, along with Lalit, the other Indian goalkeeper, spent hours after each ISL match was over, to work on specific points. Pietro Spinosa was the goalkeeping coach last year. With Battara’s wealth of experience guiding us, we can only improve. Technically I can feel the difference, now it is up to the team to prove it on the ground.
(As told to Nandakumar Marar)
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