India’s best player in the FIFAe Nations Cup team, Charanjot Singh, is brimming with confidence ahead of consecutive appearances for the eTigers in the tournament.
“We have been doing great so far, making it to consecutive Nations Cups, and I think if we continue grinding and practising, we will soon come on top. I think the biggest comeback would be to go back there and win the title this time,” he told Sportstar.
Charanjot, ranked No. 4 in South Asia in FIFAe, is the highest-ranked player (individual) in India’s three-member roster for the FIFAe Nations Cup 2023 at the Boulevard Arena in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
India was grouped alongside debutants Morocco, Mexico, Italy, the Netherlands, and eventual runner-up Poland in its maiden Nations Cup appearance in 2022.
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Despite registering a win against Morocco on the first day, five losses on the second day brought a premature end to India’s campaign.
“After the first day last year, we were pretty confident of getting into the knockout stage, but sadly, we couldn’t. So, this time, the aim is to go to at least the knockout stage,” Charanjot said.
India has come a long way since that night in Copenhagen.
It has climbed 12 spots, from 18th to sixth, turning heads around the world and forcing people to take notice of the progress the country has made in gaming and esports.
What’s the secret to success? “More preparation,” said Charanjot. “We have started playing more tournaments among us. We have brought in Sakky (Saksham Rattan) and Chadha (Aditya ‘Krusher’) into our squad, and now we are a 10- to 12-man squad.”
The eTigers are grouped with Israel, South Africa, Sweden, Peru, and Germany in Group D in this edition. They will face the strongest challenge from the Scandinavian side, which is placed fourth in the world rankings.
Three of the four members of the squad that represented India in 2022—Charanjot, Saransh Jain, and Siddh Chandarana—have made it to the final squad. Saksham has replaced Siddh as the third player, with the latter travelling to Saudi Arabia as a coach.
“Last year, when we went there, Saransh and I were not the fixed pair. I used to play with Siddh, but he fell ill in the middle of the tournament. So, Saransh had to step in,” Charanjot said.
“But this year, we have a clear mindset about what works and what doesn’t, and hopefully, that comes in our favour.”
Charanjot will don the national colours in another major competition within three months, representing India at the Asian Games in 2022.
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“As far as the Asian Games are concerned, there’s still time. Karman Tikka and I will represent India there. We are taking one tournament at a time,” he said.
“It’s more about getting adequate practice, which is neither too little nor too much; two or three games a day against good players is enough for me. If I play too much, there is a risk of getting bored and drained after over-practice, which might affect my performance on the tournament day,” he added.
India’s campaign in the FIFAe Nations Cup begins against Germany on July 11. With Charanjot and Saransh, two-time eISL (esports equivalent of the Indian Super League) champions, on the console, it will be interesting to see whether the Boys in Blue can continue their rise in the esports scene.
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