Chennaiyin FC had signed 19-year-old midfielder Sajal Bag in the summer transfer window of the ongoing season. Sajal was under the spotlight and impressed many while representing the West Bengal Santosh Trophy team as it became runners-up in the last edition.
Born in the North 24 Parganas district of West Bengal, Sajal belonged to a humble background and had to see a lot of difficulties. But, his hard work and belief brought him to the forefront of Indian Football through the Marina Machans in the Hero Indian Super League. The youngster sat and spoke with us on various topics in the exclusive interview below.
1) This is your first season in Hero Indian Super League, so how is the feeling of playing in it, and what are your expectations from the season?
“I have high expectations because we want to become champions and perform well. Since this is my first ISL season I am trying to give my 100 percent and also play satisfactorily in the games.”
2) Talk us through your rise through the youth ranks of Mohun Bagan to the CFL and then to the Bengal Santosh Trophy Team where you performed brilliantly and caught the eye of many as Bengal came so close to winning it.
“When I used to play in my childhood, my dream was to play in the ISL and also represent the Indian National team. So gradually my dreams are coming true and thus I have to focus more and perform even better.”
3) How has your bond been with your teammates and also, especially the Bengali core in the dressing room? Are they cooperative and helpful?
“Everyone who is part of the team is very good. We have many Bengali players here and, they are very close to me and also treat me as their small brother. I am blessed and happy to receive support from all my teammates. They even guide me when I make mistakes and also about the senior players in the team who always teach me new stuff. Since this is my first season in the Indian Super League, I wasn’t really aware of a lot of things, so they taught me many things, and I will be grateful to them for everything they have done for me so far.”
4) Thoughts on head coach Thomas Brdaric and his coaching style?
“Coach Thomas Brdaric is a wonderful person. I love how he helps young players like me step up our game. Whenever I make a mistake he always corrects me and says ‘make mistake but also learn from it, and asks me to not repeat the same mistakes’. These are the things I like the most about him. Also, this is my first ever season playing under a foreign coach so it has been a good experience so far.”
5) On the challenges of getting a place in the starting lineup due to stiff competition with Top players such as Thapa, Duker, Jitwshwor, and others.
“The challenges have always been there from the first day of the season. That’s because there is a lot of competition in the team’s midfield department. But, I am happy about the healthy competition as long it pushes each other to improve. But, whenever the coach has trusted me, I will repay his faith and will also work hard for the opportunities that I will get.”
6) On a personal note, you belong from a humble background, so what was the reaction of your parents and family members when they came to know about you getting an offer from a big club like Chennaiyin FC?
“The reaction they had when they came to know that I was offered to sign for Chennaiyin FC was out of the world. My parent’s faces were the ones to watch when I shared the news and, I will never forget that beautiful moment. They told me that I have been working very hard for it, and now it was time to work even more as I have to sustain and hold on to this position.”
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