Fresh off India’s eighth SAFF Championship win, Chinglensana Konsham now has his eyes set on the Indian Super League. ISL's eighth edition will commence on November 19 in Goa.
The tough-tackling centre-back had a dream run for Hyderabad FC last season, affecting 26 tackles, 26 interceptions, 76 clearances and 12 blocks. Chinglensana was a prime reason why the Nizams looked so well-organized and were in the hunt for a playoff berth until their final league fixture.
Unsurprisingly, the 24-year old soon earned his maiden India cap, against Oman on March 25. He has already become an integral member of Igor Stimac’s national set-up.
In an exclusive chat with Sportskeeda on Diwali, the tall defender shared his thoughts about the upcoming season, India’s victorious SAFF Championship campaign, HFC head coach Manolo Marquez’s impact and much more.
Q. Happy Diwali, Sana! Only two weeks remain for Hyderabad FC’s ISL-8 campaign to begin. How have the preparations been so far?
Chinglensana: I wish you a very happy Diwali too. The preparation has been good. We’ve got another two weeks to keep improving and head into our first game in our best condition as a team.
Q. 2020-21 was a brilliant season for Hyderabad FC as several youngsters emerged as stars. With so many HFC players earning national call-ups this year, do you think the core Indian group is more mature now and can handle pressure situations more effectively?
Chinglensana: I think the key is to continue playing without any fear or pressure. Now that people know about our collective capabilities and our individual qualities, there surely will be expectations. But we shouldn’t let anything get into our heads. We would rather focus on improving and continue learning while enjoying the process and play with a positive mindset.
Q. I also want to congratulate you on the SAFF Championship win. The Indian team was heavily criticised after the first two group matches, but you made a stellar comeback. How did you all handle the pressure?
Chinglensana: Thank you! Well, we played the first few games together after a long lay-off (off-season). We didn’t have enough time to prepare in the camp nor had any practice matches before the SAFF. Eventually we grew stronger after every session and won the trophy deservingly. All’s well that ends well!
Q. What has HFC head coach Manolo Marquez’s influence been like? What qualities of him do you admire the most?
Chinglensana: A lot of people and fans now respect and enjoy watching Hyderabad FC play. Much of the credit for that goes to coach Manolo. He brings out the best in every individual and gets us to play as a well organized team. He is a leader who takes away the pressure from each player and allows us to enjoy the game and express ourselves on the field. That for me is one of his best qualities.
Q. How have your interactions with Juanan been so far? As a centre-back pair, both of you will be key to HFC’s success this season.
Chinglensana: He [Juanan] is a very experienced player in the league and surely brings good quality to the side. We speak on aspects like enhancing our mutual understanding as defenders and also as a whole team.
Q. Your message to the Hyderabad FC fans ahead of the new season…
Chinglensana: Support us like you’ve always done, as we prepare to embark on another exciting season.