Football

‘Tough times, but we are ready for the task,’ says Anirudh Thapa

Bracing up: We are focused on staying fit and prepared for the upcoming assignments, says Anirudh Thapa.  

The news of human suffering and death caused by the pandemic is having a traumatic effect on the minds but, as a professional footballer, one has to stay focused on giving his best for the country.

Big challenge

Anirudh Thapa, a key midfielder of the Indian National team, said this while adding that the news of losing close ones to COVID-19 is creating an atmosphere of despair all around. This remains a big challenge every player who has got a call-up to represent his country in the upcoming 2022 World Cup and 2023 Asian Cup qualifiers in Qatar.

The National team is flying off to Doha on Wednesday to play the remainder of the qualifiers — which are against host Qatar (June 3), Bangladesh (June 7) and Afghanistan (June 15).

“The last few weeks have been difficult with the COVID situation because the infections are increasing and we keep getting news that some of our close ones have passed away. It is difficult to focus because there is a fear that we and our family members might also get infected with the virus. Everyone is concerned about that and we are trying to stay focused and follow the protocols specified to us by our coaches,” Thapa said during an interaction.

Thapa, who is considered one of the best midfielders currently in business, said the players picked by head coach Igor Stimac for the upcoming assignment have been kept mentally fit by special modules created by the strength and conditioning coach Luka Radman (popular with the players as Professor).

“We were all aware that we had the matches in June and we kept preparing for it in the confines of our home. We were following the programmes that Professor was sending us in the group in order to stay fit and keep ourselves ready for the upcoming assignments,” Thapa said.

When asked about the reason behind India’s recent 6-0 debacle against UAE in a friendly in March, Thapa said it may have happened because Stimac was testing the youngsters ahead of the big assignments.

“What he (Stimac) is now trying to do is find the best players for each position. That is the reason why he gave debut to so many players in the last round of friendlies India played in Dubai.

“There has been a lot of disruptions owing to the pandemic but when the team — the seniors and the newcomers — comes together we are sure to get the best result for our country,” said Thapa.


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Printable version | Jun 25, 2021 1:13:58 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/football/tough-times-but-we-are-ready-for-the-task-says-anirudh-thapa/article34590438.ece

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