FIFA U17 WC: What’s the similarity between Bhaichung Bhutia & India’s U17 superstar?

Komal Thatal is rated to be the heart of the India U17 football team. | Image: Komal Thatal

Komal Thatal is rated to be the heart of the India U17 football team. | Image: Komal Thatal

Komal Thatal, the wonder kid from West Sikkim and the biggest star of the India U17 Football Team is showing bigger hopes to every Indian for a memorable FIFA U17 World Cup. His recent performance, too, is nothing short of commendable.

The exciting youngster made history by becoming the first Indian Player to Score against Brazil and Uruguay and has proven his abilities in the match by his smooth control of the ball and beating multiple defenders before putting it in the back of the net. The youngster had an exclusive interaction with correspondent Suman Chakravorty, his first in India. Here goes the conversation:

Komal, you are the only Indian to have scored goals against top teams like Brazil, Uruguay, Belarus and so on. As a player, how encouraging is this for you?

Komal: For me these are like dreams come true. Scoring goals against such big teams were like dream for me. It feels amazingly good that I have scored against them. But it’s just the start for me. I want to work harder and I dream to help Indian football to grow up.

XT: You are from the state of Sikkim, where Indian football had one of their biggest stars like Bhaichung Bhutia. How big an inspiration he has been for you?

Komal: Yeah we met many times. As I belong to his home town, I like him a lot. He has always inspired me to play better for the country. But alongside that he always motivates me to become even a better footballer than him.

XT: Who has been your inspiration to play football?

Komal: Well, for me my cousin brothers and friends. I used to get attracted by their dribbling skills. I started to fall in love with the game. My parents, as you know in India usually don’t support their kids to take sports as their priority. My mom and dad wanted me to focus on my studies. But yes, they too inspired me a lot to take football seriously.

XT: What was your initial reaction when you scored that brilliant goal against Brazil?

Komal: At that moment, it was not that much excitement as we were trailing by a goal against Brazil. I didn’t even celebrate as my only focus was on to score one more and take the lead. So at that very moment, it wasn’t that much jubilant.

XT: When you play against bigger opponents, you take your game to a different level. What’s the mystery behind it?
Komal: Whenever I play a game, I don’t think too much about the opponent. To me, they are of same level when I approach a game. Unless we are losing a game, I don’t consider any team as a big team. I back my abilities and strength to play better than the opposition players.
XT: What’s your goal in the FIFA U17 World Cup?
Komal: As a team we must go to the quarter finals. This is our initial target and we are focused on it. Personally I don’t wanna give 70% or 99% but I wanna give 100% to help the team in having the success. I wanna score as many goals as possible, I wanna do as many assists as possible.
XT: You have got the priceless opportunities to train in international facilities. Aas a footballer, how big an impact it has made in your game?

Komal: It’s huge. Not just the training facilities, we have played in different conditions and against top class opponents. As a player, it helped me a lot to become a better player. We know our abilities now. We now have good match experience and the mental toughness to play against any opposition.
XT: You have already scored a number of goals against a few top teams in the world. Which has been the best moment you have had in your career so far?
Komal: I will pick the Belarus match. I scored against Brazil and Uruguay but we lost both the games. But against Belarus I scored and we won the game and that too in Russia. That was more satisfying for me. Belarus is a top team as well.

XT: What are the new things you have learned from the new Portuguese coach of the India U17 team?
Komal: There have been many things. We have learned a lot of technical things about the game. We now think and approach the game as a team and not as an individual. We play each game with fresh intensities and hunger to win. We are a determined bunch and we aren’t afraid to play any opposition. We know what to do at a tricky moment of the game.
XT: Last question Komal, you are getting this amazing opportunity to play a FIFA World Cup which no other Indian Men’s Team have achieved. What’s your feeling?
Komal: It’s a precious and an unbelievable moment for the entire team. We want to make every Indian proud and want to make this event a memorable one. If the other teams, take us lightly, we are ready to show our abilities. Remember, we are going to play the World Cup with a mission and the preparation has been good enough. I will hope the entire nation will be cheering for us.
By Suman Chakravorty


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