Bengaluru FC's recent acquisition Ajith Kumar Kamaraj is hoping to fill the shoes of Nishu Kumar in the future.
The defender's two-year stint with Chennai City FC came to an end after the Blues formally announced his arrival from the I-League outfit for an undisclosed fee on Saturday.
Ajith Kumar broke into the first team after passing Chennai City FC trials in 2018. He has gone on to represent the club on 42 occasions, including two appearances on the continental stage.
Ajith Kumar becomes the latest addition to the Blues squad after the club landed the likes of Cleiton Silva, Lalthuammawia Ralte and Joe Zoherliana earlier in the transfer window.
Sportskeeda caught up with Ajith Kumar Kamaraj for an exclusive chat, where the young full-back expressed his excitement at starting his new adventure with Bengaluru FC.
Q: How do you feel about signing for Bengaluru FC?
Ajith Kumar: I'm excited and thrilled about joining Bengaluru FC. After Chennai City's league triumph in 2019, Bengaluru FC offered me a contract but I opted to stay because of my lack of experience. However, I was taken aback when they showed genuine interest for the second consecutive year. Hence, I didn't hesitate and took one step further by joining them this time around.
Q: How much do you know about Bengaluru FC?
Ajith Kumar: Before the Super Cup clash in 2019, we (Chennai City FC) did a comprehensive analysis of Bengaluru's style of play. But, football is evolving every day and coach (Carles Cuadrat) could opt for a new strategy depending on the opposition.
The strategy might be different but I did not witness a modification in the style of play under Akbar Nawas's tutelage during the second season despite losing some players from the title-winning team. It could be the same at Bengaluru FC as well. I'm eager to work hard and learn more under Carles.
Q: Tell us more about yourself, and the positions you can play?
Ajith Kumar: Having kickstarted my career as a left-winger, I played the majority of my youth career as a midfielder. At Chennai City FC, Akbar Nawas trusted my defensive abilities and insisted that I play as a left-back. I have also played as a right-back when the coach wanted me to do so. But, the playing position always comes second as I'm the type of guy who wants to give it all on the pitch whenever an opportunity is provided anywhere across the pitch.
Q: What do you think about the prospect of replacing Nishu Kumar?
Ajith Kumar: Nishu Kumar's style is different from mine. But I'm not looking much into it as it could eventually churn out to the coach's instructions at times. Nevertheless, Nishu Kumar has several years of top-flight experience and has set high standards at BFC.
My long-term target is to fill Nishu Kumar's shoes with consistent displays.
Q: On being an arch-rival to Edwin Sydney...
Ajith Kumar: I have nothing but respect for Edwin Sydney, who I consider as my brother. He has been my motivator and my go-to guy over the past few years as a teammate. We have played against each other during our college days. It won't be any different now.
We are loyal to our own respective clubs and my focal point will always be on steering this club to the victory line every time I step on the field.
Q: What is the role of Chennai City FC and Akbar Nawas in your career?
Ajith Kumar: I'm a professional player because of Chennai City FC. I will forever be indebted to this club for my development and for helping me realise my dreams. The same applies to many Tamil Nadu players, who make the cut in professional football. I will look back at these times with a grin.
As for coach Akbar, he is very important in my life. He had the chance to field experienced players during my first season but his trust made me the player I am today. He found my best position as a left-back and took me to the next level. From basics to professional defending, his tutoring is one of the main reasons which helped me shine for the club.
Q: After being adjudged not good enough for your university team, did it constantly motivate you to get back at the critics?
Ajith Kumar: Of course, I was disappointed at that point in time. But, in life, you got to pick yourself up and keep going until the very end. I was told I was not good enough for my college team during my first year, and the same happened a year later, too.
When I completely lost hope, Soosairaj withdrew himself from the team and wanted my name to be included in the college team. That breakthrough proved to be a stepping stone for me to take part in the Chennai Senior Division Football League.
Even after passing the Chennai City trial, many advised me against signing for the club. But, my hunger kept me going all these days.
Q: What's it like being a part of the BFC defence, specifically playing with Gurpreet?
Ajith Kumar: Nauzet and Mauro guided the entire backline throughout my time at Chennai City FC. Gurpreet has tons of experience and I will be dependent on him to give orders from the backline.
Communication plays a key role in this game, and I hope to gel with the squad quickly. I'm honoured to play alongside him (Gurpreet) and defenders such as Juanan, Serran, Rahul Bheke and Khabra.
Q: A few words for Chennai City FC fans?
Ajith Kumar: They played a huge part in the club's historic moment (i.e) title victory. Their energy from the stands motivated us to work our socks off on the field and put smiles on their faces. From day one until date - their backing can't be put into words. I will always be thankful to them and hope to make them proud.
Q: Any words for Bengaluru FC fans?
Ajith Kumar: It will not be the same without fans. As long as I stay on the pitch, they can always count on me to fight until the end of the game. Their trust will not be taken for granted because I want to be remembered for a long time for good reasons.Published 26 Aug 2020, 09:49 IST