Indian football team midfielder Pronay Halder has become essential to coach Stephen Constantine’s plans in recent times. The current ATK player controlled the midfield in the team’s last international friendly against China which was a scoreless draw.
He will be hoping to repeat the performance when India take on Jordan in one of their most important friendly matches before the AFC Asian Cup begins in May.
“We were both happy and disappointed after the result against China,” Halder said on the sidelines of a practice session in New Delhi on Tuesday. “We were motivated to win and we created a lot of chances but unfortunately it didn’t happen. So we are preparing well for Jordan and want to make sure that we don’t repeat the mistakes we made in the last match.”
Barring any exceptional circumstances, Halder is expected to be a part of the Indian squad that will be flying out to the UAE in January. He reminisced about how different his life was back in 2011 – the last time India made an appearance at the continental showpiece event - and how much it has changed since then.
“In 2011, I was in TFA (TATA Football Academy) and the U-19 national team. At that point of time it was everyone’s dream to play in the Asian Cup. I saw all the matches, the ones against Australia, Korea. So even I got that feeling from inside, that desire to play the Asian Cup. I might get the opportunity now, so I want to show what I can do.”
India will be without Sunil Chhetri for the match against Jordan after the prolific striker picked up an injury after a collision with national team mate Sandesh Jhingan during the Indian Super League match between Bengaluru FC and Kerala Blasters FC.
But while Chhetri will be a key miss for India, Halder believes it’s up to the team to ensure that they keep the level of performance up.
“Of course Chhetri is a very important player for us, but football is not an individual sport. It’s a team sport, it’s all about teamwork. It’s the coach’s decision who plays forward and whoever does, we will support him, and he can score against Jordan.
“Off the field, Jhingan is a very jolly fellow. He tackled (Chhetri), it happened. It’s football. It was unfortunate but we look ahead now.”
In Halder and fellow midfielder Anirudh Thapa, India seem to have found a good blend of strength and guile. Thapa’s off-the-ball running and work-rate was particularly impressive against China, and Halder spoke about the experience of playing alongside him.
“He is a very good player, we know each other for a long time. He helps a lot both off the field and on the field.
“On the field, if he ever makes a mistake I tell him and let him know, and I have also told him to point out my mistakes on the field if I make one. So in this manner we help each other out. We will be comfortable on the ground if we help each other out,” Halder concluded.
India will take on Jordan at IST 10:30 pm on Saturday, November 17.