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'Maybe I Don't Fit Constantine's Current Style of Play,' Says Soosairaj After India Snub

Form and game time domestically have historically been among the top criteria for selection to the Indian football team according to coach Stephen Constantine. Surprisingly though, in-form Jamshedpur FC midfielder Michael Soosairaj continues to be ignored as Constantine has decided to stick with the regulars in many ways and seems adamant to build a team from the players he knows and has worked with.

Abhimanyu Sen | News18 Sports

Updated:November 4, 2018, 1:18 PM IST
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'Maybe I Don't Fit Constantine's Current Style of Play,' Says Soosairaj After India Snub
Michael Soosairaj. (Image: Twitter/IndSuperLeague)
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New Delhi: Form and game time domestically have historically been among the top criteria for selection to the Indian football team according to coach Stephen Constantine. Surprisingly though, in-form Jamshedpur FC midfielder Michael Soosairaj continues to be ignored as Constantine has decided to stick with the regulars in many ways and seems adamant to build a team from the players he knows and has worked with.

The AIFF Midfielder of the Year in his second season in the I-League with Chennai City FC, Soosairaj has carried his rich vein of form into the Indian Super League’s fifth season (ISL), where he’s now an important asset to the attack for the Tata Steel-owned franchise.

The 24-year-old has repaid the faith bestowed on him by Cesar Ferrando with three goals in the last two fixtures, with his best performance coming in a 4-1 win against FC Goa.

“I am learning lot of new things while playing in the ISL and hopefully this will help take my game to the next level,” the midfielder told News18Sports.

“I probably do not fit the style of play the coach (Constantine) is using now. Every coach has a different style of game. I can only continue to work hard and hope to take my game to the next level.”

“I am aware my fans are very disappointed that I am not in the national team, but my priority lies with Jamshedpur FC for now.”




The talented midfielder, who hails from Eraviputhenthurai in Tamil Nadu has caught the eye of more than a few in the Indian football fraternity, strongly believes that playing in the ISL is important in terms of making his dream of donning the India jersey come true.

“I think the ISL is the stepping stone for the national team and definitely one day I will earn that call up,” a determined Soosairaj said.

Currently in his first season in the cash-rich ISL, Soosairaj speaks highly of the team spirit within the Jamshedpur dressing room. The franchise is in its second year and pulled off a coup before the season kicked off when they signed up the four-time Australian World Cup Tim Cahill.

The season, though, didn’t start too comfortably for Soosairaj, but he says that niggling matters have been fixed.

“Initially I was nervous because this is a new environment. Everything is different, from the language, to the team or even the coach. But now I am very comfortable and grateful for the support.”

“Sharing the dressing room with someone like Tim Cahill is very exciting and I am trying my best to learn as much as possible.”

The support and faith has paid off – and Soosairaj is likely to continue to shoulder the major burden of creativity for his side.

The next test for him will be in the highly polluted capital city against the Delhi Dynamos, a side who are yet to register a win in six games. Jamshedpur, meanwhile, have been unbeaten in their last five games, though there has been only one win – a convincing one at that in their previous outing on Thursday.

At the moment, Soosairaj is level with Sunil Chhetri in terms of goals scored by Indians so far in the season, and undoubtedly will look to add to that tally when he takes to the Jawaharlal Nehru field on Sunday.

Last year, in their debut season under the management of Steve Coppell (current ATK coach), the franchise from the Steel City finished fifth in the standings and narrowly missed out on the semi-finals. There has been a stark contrast in the way the side has played this season and the former Chennai City FC captain credits the coach for the early success.

“We have done well this year and since this is our second year it shows good progress. Our ultimate goal is to win the ISL title.”

As for the national team, Constantine is yet to name his final squad for the penultimate friendly (vs Jordan on November 17th) in preparation for the AFC Asian Cup in UAE in January.

Attack is unlikely to be the Indian team’s biggest area of strength against stronger oppositions like Thailand, Bahrain and UAE come the turn of the year, but Soosairaj is unlikely to leave any stone unturned as he continues to knock on Constantine’s door.

What remains to be seen is how much longer that can be ignored.
| Edited by: Arjit Dabas
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