Roundglass Punjab FC, the reigning Hero I-League champions after a superb season in the second division, are now taking part in the Hero Super Cup. Grouped along with ISL runners-up and Durand Cup champions Bengaluru FC, home side Kerala Blasters and the I-League runners-up Sreenidi Deccan FC in Group A of the Super Cup in Kozhikode, there are a lot of challenges for the recently crowned champs from Punjab.
A lot of the success this season has been down to both the Individual and the collective performance of the team. 20-year-old Khaimin Lhungdim was one of the standout performers for the team among the Indian players in the team this season. Having racked up three assists the Manipuri lad was a force to reckon with for the opposition players on both his attacking and defensive duties.
We sat with him for an exclusive interview as he spoke on various trendy topics from his career and also all the things that happened in this season. Have a read of the excerpts below to know more about what he had to say about his present as well as future.
Tell us about your journey from the youth ranks of NEROCA to the first team and then signing for Roundglass Punjab FC!
“Yes, It was a difficult journey for me from the beginning. I had to really work hard to reach here. Of course, I want to be in a better club, and it was a beautiful voyage with Roundglass Punjab FC.”
How has your experience with the Punjab-based side been in their I-League title-winning campaign?
“Yes, It was a good experience. We worked very hard to achieve the I-League title.”
Your team conceded very few goals in the league and a lot of credit for that goes to the defenders and obviously goalkeeper Kiran Chemjong. Talk us through how formidable the team has been defensive.
“Yes, we conceded very few goals in the league. Of course, with the help of our keeper Kiran Chemjong, we always appreciate being defensive. We will prepare well for that and be very compact and defensive.”
You had a couple of assists in the I-League this season. Are you satisfied with your performance or did you expect more from yourself?
“Yes, I have had a couple of assists in the league this season. I’m satisfied with my performance as well.”
What is your preferred position where you think you can play at your best in defense or midfield?
“To be honest, I have no preference. I am compatible with any position, whether it be in defense or midfield.”
You are just 20 years old and have a long career ahead of you. What are your career aspirations?
“As for me, the journey only begins, and I have a long way to go. I will work harder to achieve more in the future, and I would always try to give more effort.”
With a promotion to the ISL on the cards, do you think you are prepared to take the leap above from the I-League to the Hero ISL standards?
“Yes, I think I’m mentally prepared to leap above from the I-League to the Hero ISL in terms of the standard. It will be tough, but I always believe we can perform well with hard work and consistency we will toil for it.”
Recently, the Indian national team played and won the Hero Tri-Nation tournament in your home state Manipur. Do you think it will motivate young players like you and others to work harder to get the chance to wear the Blue Tigers strips in the future?
“Yes, it was really an encouragement for the people in my state to experience the Tri-Nation Cup. I do really think it will motivate all young players like me, and others to work harder to wear the Blue Tigers strip in the future. This is the main target for all Indian players.”
The club started its Super Cup campaign with a defeat against Kerala Blasters. What are your expectations for the remaining fixtures?
“It was a very tough match against Kerala Blasters. We have done a few mistakes, and we’ve learned from them. We will come back stronger in the remaining matches.”
Do you think the Super Cup and Durand Cup are good platforms for the young players who don’t get much game time to prove themselves to their coach?
“I think it is a good platform for the young players to prove themselves to their coach. It is also a good tournament where they can prepare well and perform well.”
How different was playing this season in front of the fans compared to last season behind closed doors in neutralized venues?
“Yeah, I should say it was totally different to play in front of the fans. Even during the training sessions, most of the fans will support us and get more motivation, and our eagerness to win the match always goes up.”
What are your thoughts on head coach Staikos Vergetis and his philosophy, brand of football, team management, and also how he has managed to make the Roundglass Punjab FC become what it has achieved this season?
“Yeah, our head coach Staikos Vergetis is really good. I like him a lot, and I am happy with him. I have only seen the good in him, his love for the team, and his philosophy in leading our team. Also, the brand of the football team and the team management are good, and they provide us with the best facility. We have all worked very hard together to achieve the title this year.”
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