His talent has never been in doubt. Barely 21 but already an established member of the Senior Indian squad for over a year, midfielder Lalrindika Ralte, the ‘senior’ in India’s U-22 squad feels team spirit makes this bunch a whole lot different from other squads. In a freewheeling interview with www.the-aiff.com, Ralte speaks about India’s chances against Oman, the minute details off the field, Head Coach Arthur Papas and a lot more. EXCERPTS:
You have played for India since the U-16 level to the Senior Team. Can you spot anything special in this team?
This team is a united lot and that makes it special. Everyone is ready to support each other. Players who are not playing on a day are involved in the match as much as those who are sitting on the bench. The team spirit makes this an unique bunch.
I need to mention Arthur (Papas) has played a major hand in this. He has made all of us aware of our responsibilities both on and off the field.
India face a must-win situation against Oman. What are the feelings?
In such a match, your hundred percent may not yield a favourable result and you always need to pump into something extra. You have a look at our families and you’ll see we don’t get to be with them more than 10-15 days in a year. So we ought to make this sacrifice count.
You and Alwyn George complement each other in the midfield. How do you describe him?
He is a new player but possesses such a mature head. He is always able to break free and that makes him special. I see him as an exceptionally gifted individual.
Arthur Papas stresses on the minute details off the field. What are they?
There are some basic things which sometimes we prefer to overlook. Water intake has to be high, especially as you are playing in the heat; you need to have proper rest and sleep well. You also need to stick to a diet. Desserts stay a taboo for us. You ought to stay and move as a team – it’s all about discipline.
How do you define India’s performance in the Championship so far?
Prior to coming here, this was the ‘Group of Death.’ But we still have a chance and are alive and ticking. That explains it all. We have been taught to be compact on the field and we stick to the instructions. Most importantly, your style of play has to be adjusted to what your team needs from you and not what you want to play as an individual. That stays the key.
- Interview taken by Nilanjan Datta