ANI Photo | “Biggest moment in my time with senior side”: Suresh Wangjam on playing AFC Asian Cup

It has been a difficult two matches for India in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup Qatar 2023, but the hope still lives on to qualify for the Round of 16 as one of the four best third-placed teams. Despite the two defeats against far superior opponents like Australia (0-2) and Uzbekistan (0-3), certain individual performances have stood out for the Blue Tigers.
Suresh Wangjam is one of those who played his heart out in both games, running pillar to post, in order to make leeway for his teammates. For the 23-year-old, playing in the AFC Asian Cup is the biggest moment in his career.
“It has been an amazing experience, certainly the biggest moment in my time with the senior national team,” said Suresh to
“I have been dreaming about playing at this stage against top opponents for some time now, and to get the opportunity has been simply amazing.”
“The pace of the game against teams like Australia and Uzbekistan was very high. Even the training pitches are so different from the ones back home. The ball moves so swiftly, it is a big learning experience for me,” he said.
India has played two matches against two sides that were in complete contrast to each other. While Australia dominated possession, Uzbekistan was a more direct side, often coming under pressure from the Indian midfield and conceding chances. However, it was the conversion of the chances that made the difference at the end of the day.
“Both the games were so different from each other, but the common factor is that they were both very fast. You do not get much time on the ball. You have to prepare for your next action even before you receive it,”
said Suresh.
“Australia play the World Cup regularly, and it was extremely difficult against them. Uzbekistan were a bit different, but they took their chances, which ultimately did us in. Maybe that is why they won against us. But ultimately, both matches were good experiences. Two high-quality matches in the space of five days is not easy,” he added.
Suresh is one of the boys who played in the FIFA U-17 World Cup in 2017 and is now an integral part of the senior team. The young midfielder believes that it was his time preparing for the World Cup that helped him reach where he currently is.
“I do not want to compare, but the U-17 World Cup was also a big experience for me. We played some top teams in that tournament, and the preparation phase for the World Cup really helped us all grow and become the players that we are today,” said Suresh.
“I have been a part of the AIFF Academy since 2013, and we played so many top teams across different continents, it helped us develop our game. We played almost two to three matches every week,” he said. “I’m very thankful to AIFF for those opportunities.”
India still has their hopes of Round of 16 qualification alive, if they defeat Syria on January 23 and have to depend on other results. As a unit, however, the Blue Tigers are determined to latch on to the one hope that they have.
“It is very important that we beat Syria, we are all extremely motivated to do so. We are definitely looking for those three points, and we will give everything to earn them,” he said.

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