Defender Pritam Kotal eagerly waiting for 1st game at Salt Lake Stadium in India colours
Kolkata: Indian football team’s defender Pritam Kotal is excited to play his first match at the home ground and promised to give his all when his side face Bangladesh in a World Cup Qualifying game at the Salt Lake Stadium here, October 15.
After a gritty goal-less draw against Asian champions Qatar in Doha, the Indian players are currently in a preparatory camp in Guwahati.
The Igor Stimac-coached side will reach here Sunday in what would be India’s first match in Kolkata since their 3-2 win over Malaysia in a friendly in November 2011.
“It’s going to be the first international match in Kolkata for almost everyone of us (except Sunil Chhetri). It’s a bit more emotional for me. I’m thrilled but I can’t afford to be carried away by the occasion. If our coach puts in faith on me, I’ll give my life,” the 26-year-old, who made his international debut in 2015, told this agency from Guwahati.
Demand for tickets has been on a high with already 34,000 being sold and Pritam Kotal urged the fans to turn up in large numbers.
“The coach has already invited everyone to the stadium so that we can win it together. I’ll also welcome every single football lover to the game. You are our biggest strength, our 12th man. Let’s win it together,” Kotal, who plays for ATK in the ISL, said.
Pritam Kotal also remembered India’s goal-less draw against Qatar where the defence was tested to the hilt. Led by goalkeeper Gurpeet Singh Sandhu, India held on to a draw to become the first Asian side to avoid defeat against Qatar this year.
“Gurpreet-bhai probably put up one of his best performances till now. He led us from the front that night. Making 11 saves in a match speaks volumes of his ability. But, as we saw, others also had a perfect outing which eventually, culminated in the result. Football is a team game and we have to play it likewise,” asserted Pritam Kotal.
The right-back said head coach Igor Stimac being a defender himself was a big help in the transformation of the team.
“Our coach was a great player himself during his playing days. That is an added bonus for us as he was a defender. He has brought in an enormous experience of playing and coaching at that level and it helps us immensely,” Kotal pointed out. “He teaches minute technical things and rectifies the mistakes as well.”