An opportunity to don the blue at what is hailed as the 'Mecca of Indian football', the Salt Lake Stadium, Kolkata, beckons Liston Colaco. The Indian forward is gearing up for the Blue Tigers' clash against Cambodia in their inaugural Group D match of the 2023 AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers third round on Wednesday, June 8, 2022.
Colaco is no stranger to the Salt Lake Stadium, having featured for his club ATK Mohun Bagan in the recently concluded AFC Cup group stage matches. However, the 23-year-old is yet to play at home, let alone Kolkata, since making his international debut in March last year.
Colaco told the ISL Media Team on Monday:
"It will be a very proud moment for me to realize what every young boy dreams of: playing for the country. I had a taste of the atmosphere before while playing for ATK Mohun Bagan. The fans here in Kolkata are football crazy. I hope they come to the matches to cheer for the national team in the same manner as well."
Colaco signed a lucrative contract with Kolkata giants ATK Mohun Bagan last season and netted four goals, including a hat-trick against the Bashundhara Kings, in the AFC Cup. He also found the back of the net eight times in the ISL.
However, the versatile forward is desperate to get off the mark in national team colors. Riding his rich vein of form, he hopes the moment will arrive over the next week.
"I have been waiting for a long time (for the first India goal). I hope in these three matches, I can score one if not three to four goals."
The onus of getting India over the finish line in terms of qualifying for the 2023 AFC Asian Cup is not lost on him as well. Colaco stated in this regard:
"It will be a huge achievement for the national team, and for a player, it is a platform to step up and perform at the highest level."
Colaco has been earmarked as one of the future stars of the national team. The former FC Goa and Hyderabad FC attacker believes that the current squad, filled with youngsters like himself, could form the core of the national team over the next decade in trying to make India a top football team in the region.
Colaco signed off by saying:
"We need to keep on improving ourselves, as we always do in training. I think this young group is talented and hard-working. If we maintain this, we can surely achieve greater things for the national team in time to come."