Striker Sulanjana Raul is still in her teens but has set an exacting standard for herself when it comes to her footballing dreams. And she is not ready to lower her banner, even after scoring her first international hattrick against Iran in the AFC U17 Asian Cup qualifiers Round 2.
Saturday was a big day for the diminutive girl from District East Midnapore in West Bengal, as her three goals helped India end the campaign with a win and three points. But minutes after the battle was over, Sulanjana made it clear she was not walking in the sunshine. Asked about her immediate feelings by the-aiff.com, Sulanjana’s reply was crisp and clear. “I am feeling great and happy to have scored a hattrick. But overall, I am not satisfied with my performance.”
“I could have done much better. I had lots of chances and could have scored more,” Sulanjana was frank in her admission. She wasn’t far from the truth, as she could have scored a couple of goals in the first half itself. But Sulanjana knows that not every opportunity in football gets converted into goals. So, she waited for the next and made good use of them.
No doubt, Sulanjana aims for the stars; she is ambitious and follows a dream. A dream that she shares with her father. In a recent interview, she said that her father always wanted her to be a footballer and she pursued it diligently since childhood. No wonder, when asked to whom she would like to dedicate her hattrick, Sulanjana replied promptly, “To my father.”
Of the three goals, Sulanjana said, her third strike minute before the final whistle was the toughest and left her feeling good. She was well-marked in the rival box, as there were three defenders. But she managed to outwit all and set a shot for which the Iranian goalkeeper had no answer. “The third goal was the toughest. The way I took the inside touch and then sent it in, it just felt so good,” said Sulanjana, like a true perfectionist.
As the Indian team trooped out after a satisfying victory, head coach Priya PV was waiting to greet her wards. She hugged her hat-trick girl tight and Sulanjana flashed a smile—a smile with the honesty of an innocent greenhorn. After 90 minutes of hard skirmish on the pitch, she let her true self out. Sulanjana is still a kid.