Goalkeeper Dheeraj Singh is in Qatar with the Indian national team for the remaining fixtures of FIFA World Cup 2022 qualifiers.
The Indian national men’s football team is in Qatar for their remaining matches of the FIFA World Cup 2022 and AFC Asian Cup 2023 joint qualifiers. Head coach Igor Stimac has selected a number of youngsters in the 28-member squad. One such name is 20-year-old goalkeeper Dheeraj Singh Moirangthem. The FC Goa custodian was selected for the national team on the back of some incredible performances in the recent AFC Champions League games.
In an interaction on AIFF TV, Dheeraj said: “I feel really happy to be part of the national team and it is an honour for me to get this opportunity at a young age. I get to learn a lot of things from the senior players by playing and training with the best goalkeepers in the league. We have Gurpreet paji and Amrinder paji and it’s a very important thing for me and I am looking forward to learning lots of things from them – both on and off the pitch.”
Dheeraj was selected in the national team for the first time in November last year. However because of an average performance in the Indian Super League seventh edition he didn’t travel with the team to Dubai in March.
He quipped: “I still remember when I got the first call-up for the senior national team – they (Gurpreet and Amrinder) congratulated me and the team welcomed me like a family member. They were very nice to me and told me that I have been doing well and have a lot to learn. They keep on motivating me, help me rectify my mistakes during training and tell me what to do and what not to do, what is better for me and what’s not. It is something very important and a huge learning for me.”
The former U-17 World Cupper and Indian Arrows custodian was exceptional for FC Goa in the recent AFC Champions League Group stage held in Goa. He was also named in the ACL’s team of the week. The boy from Manipur will compete against Amarinder Singh and Gurpreet Singh Sandhu for a place in the Indian team’s starting XI.
“Honestly speaking, we have very good goalkeepers in India – in the senior national team and the leagues. Many good goalkeepers are coming up and we have a very tight competition among ourselves. I am very young and have lots of areas that I have to improve upon.”
“It’s a very tough competition and a tough challenge for me and for every goalkeeper as they have set that benchmark for us to try and reach. I am working for that chance and know that I have to use the coming opportunity in the best way,” the former AIFF Academy cadet averred.
He also shared his opinion on the growth of Indian goalkeeper’s in the senior and junior set up in the recent years because of the increased number of opportunities they are getting in the domestic circuit.
“Now, we have most clubs playing with Indian goalkeepers domestically. Obviously, for a goalkeeper, it is very important to play regularly to gain confidence. Training and playing matches are totally different as when you play games, you learn a lot of things and there are many unique situations that come up in the matches. It’s a good experience for a goalkeeper to keep on playing matches consistently,” Dheeraj opined.
“I think that’s the reason many goalkeepers are coming up with good standards. Even when I was in the junior national team, we had keepers like Nawaz (Mohammad Nawaz) and Gill (Prabhsukhan Singh Gill). They are all very good and having a very healthy goalkeeper quality and competition is very good. As a player, every day is a competition for me and they pushed me every day — that’s how I have grown and we go forward together as a goalkeepers union.”