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‘Delhi have a better chance’

Leading the pack seems to have become an old habit for Delhi ‘veteran’ Pushpender Kundu. At the Ambedkar Stadium on the first day of the Santosh Trophy trials...s

Written by Saikat Sarkar | New Delhi |
May 5, 2009 10:57:14 pm

Veteran Pushpender Kundu believes the team can make the last four at this year’s Santosh Trophy

Leading the pack seems to have become an old habit for Delhi ‘veteran’ Pushpender Kundu. At the Ambedkar Stadium on the first day of the Santosh Trophy trials,the 28-year-old who has been turning out for the Delhi team in the national championships for the last eight editions says being called a veteran doesn’t hurt him at all.

“I’m 28,though certainly not a veteran in terms of age. But I first played the Santosh Trophy as an 18-year old and there’s a feeling that I have been around for too long because people have been seeing me for a pretty long time. I don’t think too many players from Delhi have done this and that’s why I don’t mind coming here year after year and being called a veteran,” Kundu says.

“This will be my ninth Santosh Trophy. By the beginning of every season,I know my standing among others in Delhi. I think I’m still part of the best here and that’s why I come to the trials knowing I’ve a better chance than most,” Kundu adds.

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No insecurities
Insecurity over selection was banished since as far back as his second appearance in 2000. “The days before my first selection were tense. Some of the officials told me I was too young and should play more age-group tournaments. But the coach picked me saying I was good enough. Since then I have never felt insecure about my place in the team,” the ESI player says.

The highs of these eight years — the 2004 edition in Delhi and Sunil Chhetri’s hat-trick against the Railways two years later in Faridabad — stand tall among the lows,which were far more frequent,and Kundu admits it is not an ideal situation. “My biggest disappointment is the fact that Delhi could never qualify for the semi-finals in the last ten years. Each year we had one problem or the other,” the Hindustan FC player said.

His ninth shot,he feels,could be better than his last eight,with the “best tactician” at the helm and a possibility of the return of a couple of stars. “We have a better chance this year because we have one of the best coaches this time. Surinder Kumar is the best tactician in Delhi and we have been looking to play under him for a long time. If Sunil (Chhetri),Praveen (Rawat) and Vinay (Singh) return we will certainly become stronger,” Kundu says.

The experienced player hasn’t lost his tricks and is looking to get better. “I might play for another two,three,maybe four years. It all depends on how fit I keep myself. For now,I’m eager to play this year’s competition. I might get a promotion in office.”

Northern Railway win
New Delhi: Northern Railway registered their third successive victory when they defeated Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. (BSNL) 2-0 to earn three full points in a group II match of ‘A’ division in the DSA Annual Institutional Football League Championship. Railways have nine points from three games while BSNL have six from as many.Railways’ Ashish Godyal scored a brace in— the 20th and 25th minutes to complete the tally.

In group I of the Senior Division,Reserve Bank of India (RBI) failed to turn up against Zakir Hussain College. Following two consecutive two walk-overs,RBI’s further matches have been cancelled.

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