After hitting high in Saudi Arabia
by Chandigarh Newsline
BACK from an action-packed and thrilling experience in Saudi Arabia, the three players from Chandigarh, who are members of the India U-16 team, are excited and eager to share their experience.
With stars in his eyes, young Bikramjeet Singh says, “I am now hopeful of representing U-16 India side in the AFC Championship finals.” Bikramjeet is among the five footballers from Chandigarh who were a part of the Indian U-16 side which qualified for the AFC Championship finals after a tremendous run at the qualifying stage at Damman, Saudi Arabia.
Last week when the Indian senior football team drew with Lebanon 2-2 in the 2010 World Cup qualifying match, the Indian Under-16 side was scripting another success against Lebanon’s Under-16 side in the qualifying stage of the AFC Championship. And the young Bikramjeet, along with Gurpreet Sandhu and Deepak Devrani, was in the final eleven for India during the five match qualifying stage.
“This win has come after a gap of three years. The last time we entered the final of AFC Championship was in 2004 when India played at home against a much-weaker field. The exposure trip to Germany before the championship helped us a lot as the team gathered the required momentum before the all important qualifying stage,” says 15-year-old Bikramjeet, who was also the captain of the Indian U-16 side during the exposure trip to Germany early this year.
Bikramjeet scored the all-important goal against Iraq when the opposition was leading by 2-0. Like Bikramjeet, Deepak Devrani, a trainee of Chandigarh Hockey and Football Academy (CHFA), was in tremendous form during the qualifying stage scoring two goals in the match against Lebanon.
“This win means a lot for us. I was playing for the Indian U-16 side for the first time and it was great learning experience for me. We also got a chance to play against three of the topmost German clubs - FC Augsburg, 1860 Munich and Stuttgart,” says Devrani, who joined the CHFA in 2006.
Another member of the team, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, who donned the goalkeeper’s gloves during the championship, is still mesmerised by the fact that they played a match at Augsburg Stadium where 2006 World Cup quarterfinal was played.
“It was a dream come true for me. The team gelled well as most of the guys have played together at the domestic level and I am hopeful of playing in the final of the championship,” says Sandhu, who is currently a trainee at St Stephen’s Football Academy.