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ISL 2020-21: Bengaluru FC winger Udanta Singh eager to bounce back and help Blues win ISL

Udanta Singh is eager to bounce back from a disappointing last season
Udanta Singh is eager to bounce back from a disappointing last season
FEATURED COLUMNIST
Modified 15 Nov 2020, 09:50 IST
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Bengaluru FC winger Udanta Singh is eager to put the past behind him and is looking forward to help the Blues regain the Indian Super League (ISL) title this season.

The Manipuri winger managed just a single goal and an assist for Bengaluru FC last season, but in an exclusive interview with Sportskeeda, he said that is now in the past, and that he isn't thinking about it at the moment.

"However, I do realise that it wasn’t a productive season for me and I want to set things straight this year," Udanta said.

Towards the end of last season, Udanta's form was a massive concern for head coach Carles Cuadrat. The Spaniard dropped the winger from his starting XI for some crunch games, including the semifinal second leg against ATK, which the Blues lost 3-1.

That loss meant that Bengaluru FC finished their ISL commitments without making the final for the first time since they made the move in the 2017-18 season. Udanta is eager to set that right this year.

"I want to be able to give more to the team, and like always, I am happy to play any role it takes to get the team success," he said.

The Indian players for Bengaluru FC have been training together for more than a month now, with an initial camp happening at the JSW Group's Inspire Institute of Sport in Vijayanagar, Ballari.

With the COVID-19 lockdown and the restrictions imposed by the Indian government, the off-season has not been easy for any player, and Udanta said that the camp was hugely beneficial for him and the team.

"As a team, we had a very long off season, so the trip to Ballari was to get our fitness back up to the levels required to play professional football," he said.

Cuadrat and the bulk of his backroom staff only arrived in India in the last week of October, so assistant coach Naushad Moosa was in charge of the training sessions for Bengaluru FC in Ballari, where they even played an intra-squad practice match, in which Udanta scored twice.

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"Of course, we were in touch with our staff even during the off-season to keep fit, but it was also important to make sure everyone was at the same level. We are lucky to have access to the kind of facilities we have at the IIS and we made the most of it," Udanta continued.

Bengaluru FC have made two key attacking additions to their squad for the new season, in the form of Brazilian Cleiton Silva and the Norwegian striker Kristian Opseth.

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Silva is the all-time leading scorer in the Thai first division, and Udanta is excited by the possibility of linking up with him.

"Cleiton and Kristian bring with them a lot of quality, and we have already seen that in training."

"Cleiton has played in Thailand for many years, and his records are there for everyone to see.

"I am hopeful that as time passes by, we are able to get in sync and start contributing to the scoresheet," he said.

Last season, Bengaluru FC were among the lowest goal-scorers in the ISL, and had problems with their personnel up-front. Manu Onwu was signed to replace Miku, but the Spaniard's injury concerns meant he was hardly available for the first half of the season, before he was loaned to Odisha FC in January.

Udanta is aware that he is part of a group that is tasked with the responsibility of setting that right.

"The lack of goal scoring was a problem for us, and we have worked to look to fix it."

Fortunate to learn from Sunil Chhetri, says Bengaluru FC winger Udanta Singh

Udanta Singh signed a new three-year deal with Bengaluru FC in the off-season
Udanta Singh signed a new three-year deal with Bengaluru FC in the off-season
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Despite the additions made to the squad, the Bengaluru FC attack will once again revolve around their inspirational skipper Sunil Chhetri .

Despite their woes last season, when both Udanta and Ashique Kuruniyan managed just a goal and an assist each, Chhetri has been bullish in keeping his faith in the two wingers, who Bengaluru FC have invested their faith in as well.

It is something that Udanta says he doesn't take for granted.

"It is immense to have his faith in me, and I consider myself lucky to have shared the dressing room with him for so many seasons already."

Udanta said that like the rest of the squad, he is fortunate to be able to learn from Chhetri even after playing with him for so long.

"He is a role model, and to have him backing me makes me want to perform even more."

In the off-season, Udanta signed a three-year extension to his contract at Bengaluru FC, where he has been since 2015.

Keeping his personal goals a secret, Udanta said that the main target for him was to keep improving and to help Bengaluru FC regain their ISL crown this season.

"Not winning a trophy last season hurt us," Udanta says, while also saying that has made the side hungrier than ever.

"I have committed my future to the club because I know what we are capable of achieving and because this is a family."

There is competition for Udanta's spot now though, in the form of young Leon Augustine, who finished last season impressively for Bengaluru FC.

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The Manipuri has welcomed the competition, saying that it will only help the team get better.

"If he is competing with me for a spot in the team, that only means we become stronger as a unit and that’s good," he said.

Udanta has been impressed by Augustine's fitness levels, which he says have clearly improved from last season.

"He has worked on his fitness during the off-season and there is a marked change in his physique too," he said.

For Udanta Singh, the aim for the 2020-21 season is clear. He wants to help Bengaluru FC continue to be one of the ISL heavyweights, and to bring the trophy back to the Garden City.

Published 15 Nov 2020, 09:50 IST
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