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ISL: Gouramangi Singh hopes for a top-four finish for Chennaiyin FC

Ahead of his team's first home game against the Kerala Blasters on Tuesday, the defender believes it is too early to declare trophy favourites.

Subhasish Dutta | News18 Sports

Updated:October 21, 2014, 8:18 AM IST
ISL: Gouramangi Singh hopes for a top-four finish for Chennaiyin FC
Ahead of his team's first home game against the Kerala Blasters on Tuesday, the defender believes it is too early to declare trophy favourites.

Chennai: The new whiz kid of Indian football, the Indian Super League, has completed a successful first week in hope to wake the world's second most populous country from its football slumber. Almost 60,000 plus fans flocked the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata to cheer for the home team Atletico de Kolkata in last Sunday's opening match. That was followed by high turnouts in Guwahati, Goa and Mumbai. Not a bad start in a country which is obsessed with cricket and ranks a lowly 158th on the FIFA rankings.

The kind of buzz it has generated in a short span of time has left many people mesmerized. And one of such men is 26-year-old Gouramangi Singh, one of the most sought-after players in the Indian football circuit.

"The ISL has generated enough buzz in a very short span of time and it is beyond expectations. The tournament has at least made people sit up and take notice. Though it is too early to say good or bad about the tournament, the initial impact is very positive," Gouramangi told IBNLive Sports in a freewheeling chat.

"It is one of the best things to have happened to Indian football and we should think of the positives rather than the negatives. We are seeing 50,000 plus crowd in a football match in India. It is something we haven't seen before. It is not a joke, especially for in a country like ours where cricket is very popular. It would be best if we analyse the success of the league once it gets over."

Staying in swanky five-star properties, training with the best facilities and rubbing shoulders with the legends of the game, these are the things which were probably missing from Indian football.

"The facilities which have been provided by the franchises are the best and not less than Europe in any way. The standard of football too has gone up several notches.

"One of the best things about the league is that its intent is very positive. It has brought professionalism to our game; the approach of the franchise owners is very important in this regard," said Gouramangi from his hotel room after returning from an extensive training session.

At 6 feet 1, Gouramangi, who hails from Awang Sekmai, a town 17 km from Imphal, is one of India's tallest players and is feared by the opponents for his accurate headers. And he will be a key figure in the defence of Chennaiyin FC when they take on Kerala Blasters at home on Tuesday.

Gouramangi says he hopes to give the home fans a winning welcome. "It will be our first home game and we are really excited. We definitely want to win it and give our fans a winning start to the home campaign. Kerala are also a good team and I am sure it will be an exciting contest.

"Seeing the buzz the game has generated in the city, I am hoping of a strong turnout in the stadium on match day."

When asked about his team's chances this year, Gouramangi said they are aiming for a top-four finish, if not the title. "Our team is very balanced and all the players have gelled together in a short period of time. We are not thinking too far. We have won our first game and we are concentrating on one game at a time. It is still too early to declare the favourites.

"We have some excellent foreign players in the team. Someone like Materazzi, Mikael and Elano have played the highest level of football. There's a lot to learn from them and the best part of playing in the ISL is that we all wear the same jerseys. There is no preferential treatment given to the foreign players."

Gouramangi, who was in India's first-ever Nehru Cup-winning team in 2007, says Materazzi asks the boys to fight for every ball and play their heart out in every game.

"Materazzi is a legend of the game - top notch. During the pep talks, he asks us to fight for every ball, don't lose the possession and play your heart out. These kinds of inspirational talks really help," concluded Gouramangi, who is a product of the Tata Football Academy and has plied his trade with clubs like Dempo SC and Churchill Brothers.

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