U17 World Cup: Midfielder Suresh Wangjam to hold centrestageOctober 4, 2017
NEW DELHI: Having only two forwards – Aniket Jadhav and Rahim Ali – and as many as 10 midfielders on its roster, the Indian squad for the Under-17 World Cup is heavy in the midfield. No wonder coach Luis Norton de Matos is banking on his midfield generals to eke out positive results for the side, which kicks off its campaign against the US on Friday.
While playmakers like Amarjit Singh Kiyam and Jeakson Singh and wingers like Komal Thatal will hold the key in building the attack, the responsibility to stop an opposition attack from developing will rely on holding midfielder Suresh Singh Wangjam, who has been part of the team since 2014.
Three years of experience has polished the Manipuri teenager’s positioning and match-reading skills as he aims to play the role of the midfield anchor in the side. It has also taught him to remain calm under pressure. He showed his composure with a last-gasp penalty against Saudi Arabia in the U-16 AFC Cup qualifiers last year.
The holding midfielder said that India’s exposure tours to Europe and Mexico have taught him how to use the width of the pitch. “There is a bit of expectations but we are not feeling any pressure. It is actually motivating us. We have preparing well and it’s time to execute our plans. Earlier, we would be afraid to face strong opponents. But now, we treat them as equals and will be starting on an even keel. This is due to the exposure tours. They have taught us to play aggressive football. They have also helped me to develop my game. I know when to go into a tackle and how to use the width pitch in order to stretch the opponents,” Wangjam, who is a fan of Real Madrid and Ger many midfielder Toni Kroos, told TOI.
Apart from providing stability in the midfield, Wangjam can quickly march forward, resulting in India’s swift transitions from defence to attack. The medio, who started his career as a right winger before coaches such as Rob Baan and Wim Koevermans tweaked his playing position, feels his attacking ability comes from his early years on the wing. “Earlier, I would focus on how to make quick runs on the wing in order to catch the opposition by surprise. So that helps me now. I can quickly make a run with or without the ball to rattle the opponents,” said Wangjam.