Rahul Kannoly happy with his decision to sign for Arrows

The 17-year-old Rahul has played in 15 matches in the I-league with Indian Arrows and scored two goals. The experimental youth team has earned praise from all corner for its football this season.

Rahul Kannoly against Mohun Bagan I -League

K. P. Rahul in action against Mohun Bagan in the I-League.   -  AIFF media


Indian Arrows midfielder Rahul Kannoly Praveen adores Cristiano Ronaldo so much that the 17-year-old has modeled his appearance on the Real Madrid star's appearance. The gold stud earrings which adorns his ears, the silver chain which dangles from his neck and the trendy hairdo gives Rahul the look of a fashionable teenager rather than that of a footballer. But give him a football, he becomes a livewire on the field

Rahul is taking his baby steps in the cut throat world of professional football but what makes him different is his confidence and firm belief in his ability. Rahul, who is fearless and plays the game hard, looks to make an impact on the left wing with his expressive style. His I-League team Indian Arrows has made an impact in the tournament. The team punched above its weight giving seasoned teams a run for their money.

Personally, it has been a great learning curve for the youngster, who figured in 15 games while scoring two goals for his side.

"Looking back, signing for Indian Arrows was the best decision I made. After the World Cup I had offers from many clubs including Kerala Blasters. I pondered over a lot and nearly signed for Blasters but decided to sign for Indian Arrows at the last moment purely for footballing reasons,’’ he told Sportstar.

"I would not have got an opportunity to play in the I-League if I had signed for any other teams and I would have been on the bench. This was a great opportunity for me to learn and gain experience and it was a wise decision for which I don't have any regrets,'' he said.

"The Under-17 World Cup was certainly tougher. The teams were more organised. But I think we competed very well in the league. We held our own against big teams and, if you see, it was foreign players who scored more goals against us. With our average age of under-17 and with all Indian players we have done pretty well. Personally, I am happy with my performance and cherish the two goals I scored in the league, especially the one against Lajong," he said.

According to Rahul, coach De Matos always backed his players and believed in giving chances to all players in the squad. Also, the coach always advised them not to present space to rival players and that gave them the freedom to intimidate their opponent.

The past one year was like a dream for Rahul. He became an instant celebrity in Kerala when he became he first player from the State to play a football World Cup. Felicitations and praises followed, and inevitable comparisons with the best footballers produced from these regions.

Hailing from Thrissur, which produced some of India's finest footballers - I. M. Vijayan, Joe Paul Anchery and Pappachan to name a few - , Rahul is seen as natural successor to these great names.

But in many ways, the Under-17 World Cup was a reality check on Indian football and Rahul knew pretty well that he and his team-mates had a long way to go. "I am still learning and it is long tough road. I have set high standards for myself, and I am young and willing to work hard to achieve it. I always believe in hard work. I agree I may not be as talented as some of my team-mates but I am ready to slog it out to reach that level," he signed off with determination in his eyes.

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