India will take on Nepal in Mumbai on June 6 in a friendly as they prepare for the AFC Asian Cup qualifier against Kyrgyzstan on June 13. Eugeneson Lyngdoh, who is part of Stephen Constantine’s team that will face Nepal, feels that the game will be important for the players as it is the first time they get together since playing for their respective I-League clubs.
“The mood in the team is great. We are all excited to be representing the country again after the long season. The Nepal game is important so that we are set up before the game against Kyrgyzstan,” Lyngdoh told reporters in Mumbai on Saturday ahead of the training session with the team at the Football Arena in the Andheri Sports Complex.
“Its the right preparation (for the game against Kyrgyzstan at Bengaluru) as playing against any team will help us to jell as a team. We are coming back after so many months and its important to get our system right before playing against Kyrgyzstan,” said Lyngdoh.
“It was my first match and I remember it as a dream come true. Obviously I was a new player and senior players Robin Singh, Sunil (Chhetri) and a couple of other guys and coaching staff supported me,” he expressed his emotions while recalling his debut performance in the first leg of the 2018 FIFA World Cup pre-qualifier in 2015.
India has improved drastically in the world ranking with Lyngdoh playing a huge role in India’s campaign to climb to 100th rank. “The journey has been tough. We have had ups and downs. There were games we played badly and there were games we played really well. Things have fallen at the right path and now we are 100 in the world,” said Lyngdoh regarding the progress.
“We have a lot to learn and this is a start. We have greater things ahead of us. We aim to be among the elite and I dont see why we cant be as we have the talent,” added Lyngdoh.
Lyngdoh feels that Sunil Chhetri’s availability in the team ahead of their match against Nepal will be a big boost for the players. He was suffering from a hamstring injury.
“Its obviously a big boost to the whole team. Hes been great and hes been proving himself time after time. We need him to lead us on the pitch,” he quipped.
Udanta Singh will not feature against Nepal due to a serious hamstring injury and Lyngdoh feels there are other players to replace the Manipur-born winger.
“Obviously he is one of our weapons, but we have players available to replace him as hes injured,” said Lyngdoh. He feels that the Kyrgyzstan game will be a crucial game in terms of qualifying for the 2019 Asian Cup.
“Kyrgyzstan are one of the biggest sides in the group. Getting three points against them is very vital for our qualification. We will be doing our best to get three points so as to make it six points from two games,” he said.
The team had defeated Myanmar earlier in an away game to grab three crucial points. Macau is the fourth team in India’s group. “We have a lot of confidence but we cannot be overconfident about our chances. But we do believe in ourselves that we can make it (to the 2019 AFC Asian Cup),” he added.