Thursday , March 30 2023

India’s Akash Mishra: Important to grow as a team in FIFA windows!

We are at the fag end of the 2022-23 Indian Football season, and the FIFA International Window is drawing ever so nearer, as the Blue Tigers set camp in Kolkata to prepare for the upcoming Tri-Nation International Football Tournament in Imphal.

While the league campaign is not yet over for nine of the players, who will join one day after the ISL final (March 18), it has very much come to a close for Akash Mishra, and the fullback is now motivating himself for another push in the National Team colours.

“It’s always nice to be back (in the National camp). The best players in the country are here, and it’s a great experience to learn from them every time,” Mishra said. “The atmosphere is quite different from the league games. Youngsters like myself get to learn a lot from the senior players like Sunil Chhetri, or Gurpreet Singh, not just on the pitch, but off it as well.”

The Blue Tigers are currently preparing for the AFC Asian Cup next year, and the matches against Myanmar (March 22) and the Kyrgyz Republic (March 28) in the Tri-Nation International Football Tournament, are part of the series of competitive International games planned by the Federation to help the team get up to the desired level to face the best in Asia.

“International games have a totally different intensity, they are nothing compared to league games. The motivation levels are different, and I believe these matches help us all improve as a team,” said Mishra.

The 21-year-old fullback himself has come back from his club Hyderabad FC after the disappointment of being on the wrong end of a ISL semifinal penalty shootout. However, the young lad has picked himself back up and is raring to go.

“It’s difficult to come back from that kind of a loss. Playing the whole 120 minutes, and then losing on penalties take a toll. But for me, a call-up to the National Team comes above everything else,” said Mishra. “It does not matter what situation I’m coming from, be it a loss, an injury, or any other setback. It’s always a privilege to be called for the India camp, so that is motivation enough to pick myself back up and get going again.”

Manipur is set to host the National Team for the first time, and that is something that has got everyone excited. The state that has provided innumerable players to both men’s and women’s football, will be hosting the Blue Tigers. Akash, who played at the Khuman Lampak last year in the Durand Cup, and previously as well, during his days in the Hero I-League, feels that the fans in Imphal provide a really special atmosphere.

“I’ve played countless times in Imphal, in the I-League and Durand Cup, and the atmosphere there is just special. I’ve always been on the opposing team there, so when they are against you, it can be haunting, but I can only imagine how much of a boost that backing could give to the home team,” he said.

India will take on Myanmar on March 22 and the Kyrgyz Republic on March 28 at the Khuman Lampak Stadium in Imphal. All the matches of the Tri-Nation International Football Tournament will kick off at 6pm IST on their respective dates and will be broadcast and streamed live on Star Sports 3, and Disney+ Hotstar, respectively.

Tri-Nation International Football Tournament Fixtures

March 22: India vs Myanmar, 6pm IST.

March 25: Myanmar vs Kyrgyz Republic, 6pm IST.

March 28: Kyrgyz Republic vs India, 6pm IST.

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