Chinglesana Singh or better known as Sana Singh has become a household name among Indian football fans, especially after the previous Indian Super League season. The 24-year-old former Shillong Lajong FC defender was a mainstay in the Hyderabad FC team and formed an impressive partnership at the back with Odei Onaindia. The Manipuri was a part of one of the best defensive units in the league, conceding just 19 goals in 20 matches. Not only that, in the 18 matches he featured in, the centre-back made 76 clearances, 26 tackles and 26 interceptions that shows his influence on the side. This paved his way into the national squad setup. He was among the six Hyderabad FC players who were called up by coach Igor Stimac for India’s friendly games against Oman and UAE in Qatar.
This was in fact for the second time that Sana was called up for the national team. He got his first call five years ago, however, he never made his official debut back then.
“I did not have the very best of memories of my first India call-up because I did not get my official debut then but I was there with the team," he told CNN-News18.
This time around I was pretty confident and wanted to contribute to the team and do well for the team. That was the plan, that was the aim and I have been working so hard for this for a very long. I was sure I would do that and eventually, I did that and I am happy about it," he added.
As mentioned earlier he got the national team call-up on the back of some impressive performance with the HFC, and the former FC Goa man has credited coach Manuel Marquez to helping him develop his game.
“A lot of credit goes to our coach for taking off all the pressure away from us young players and to take up that responsibility and let us play with that extra bit of confidence.
He has a very simple philosophy, to enjoy football. To enjoy the game is the most important part. As a coach, he always tells us that let the pressure be for him and we just go and enjoy the football. That has helped us to play with a free mind and go out there and enjoy the game," he said.
Sana, who looks up to Real Madrid legend Sergio Ramos also pointed out how similar philosophies shared by Marquez and Stimac helped him get into the national side.
“For me, as an individual, I have been very fortunate that both the coaches have a very similar philosophy of keeping the ball and playing from the back. Passing the ball around which I think is one of my key points of the game which I really enjoy doing it. That’s what I did for HFC and I was told to do the same thing for the national team. That really helped me to enjoy my brand of football."
Along with Sana, his fellow defender Akash Mishra, forwards Halicharan Narzary , Liston Colaco, midfielders Hitesh Sharma, Mohammad Yasir were also called up for the preparatory camp. Another HFC defender, Ashish Rai missed out because he was nursing an injury.
Talking about it Sana said, “It was a very good season for us not only in terms of football reasons but also in terms of a club, as a team…the philosophy and the belief that a club has on its youngsters."
Reminiscing the previous season, Sana said, “Yeah, the season could have been better, of course, we are not satisfied but it is a good start. The good thing is that the same hunger would be there and the same players would be there mostly so, we look forward to continuing and do better for the club. We are a very ambitious bunch of players so it is going to be a very exciting season for the club."
For the upcoming season, the Nizams have already roped in the services of former Mumbai City FC forward Bartholomew Ogbeche and ATK Mohun Bagan FC midfielder Edu Garcia among others. Sana is confident that they would carry on the momentum in the upcoming season.
“We still won’t be able to play in front of the crowd but we surely will have great moments together and I am very optimistic about it. It is just the beginning, the best of us players are still ahead of us, our peak and our best performances are still ahead of us. Individually and as a team we are going to do much much better than what we have done last season."