"We are enjoying ourselves, and the fans enjoy the way we play" - Udanta Singh praises India's work on & off pitch after SAFF Championship 2023 win

Udanta Singh (far right) and the Indian team celebrate their SAFF Championship 2023 victory. [Credits: AIFF]
Udanta Singh (far right) and the Indian team celebrate their SAFF Championship 2023 victory. (Credits: AIFF)

Indian football team winger Udanta Singh has lauded the work done by the team in the ongoing international break following their SAFF Championship 2023 win.

The Blue Tigers beat Kuwait 5-4 on penalties (1-1 after extra time) in the final at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium on Tuesday (July 4). After going behind early, they equalised through a delightful passing move finished off by Lallianzuala Chhangte before half-time.

The hosts then converted five of their six penalties, while Kuwait missed one and saw Gurpreet Singh Sandhu save another to fall to a defeat. The victory gave India their ninth SAFF Championship title and their third trophy in the ongoing international break. Igor Stimac's men had previously lifted the Hero Tri-Nations Cup and Hero Intercontinental Cup.

Udanta Singh has played a key role in all three triumphs and acted as an impact sub in the recently concluded tournament. At the mixed zone after the win over Kuwait, the winger spoke about the belief within the camp and how the work they've put in is paying off.

"We have worked hard for the past one month. We are already champions of the Hero Intercontinental Cup. So we believe and even the coaches have given us our freedom. Mistakes will happen, but we will learn and after that, we scored the goal with a 1-2. That's what we do," he said.
"We are enjoying (ourselves), and even the fans enjoy the way we play now."

Udanta was also asked if this is the best version of the Indian team since he made his debut for them back in 2016. He responded:

"I can't say that (laughs). But yeah, this is becoming the best. We are working hard off the field also - not just on the ground, but in the gym. Team bonding is very important."

The 27-year-old played in all five games for India at the SAFF Championship, scoring once in 148 minutes of action. He also recorded three key passes and two crosses.

I was confident, but it happens - Udanta Singh reflects on missed spot-kick in India's shootout win over Kuwait

Udanta Singh, who took the fourth kick, was the only one to miss in the shootout against Kuwait.

The FC Goa forward looked for the top-right corner, but his shot sailed over the crossbar to hand the Blue Wave a lifeline. However, Subhasish Bose and Naorem Mahesh Singh converted, while Gurpreet Singh Sandhu saved Kuwait's sixth penalty to give India a memorable win.

After the game, Udanta Singh was asked if he or the team felt any nerves. He said:

"No, (we were) not nervous. The boys have been working very hard. We keep encouraging. Mistakes happen, but we did our best, and the fans also gave their best."

About his penalty, he said:

"Nothing much. It was the heat of the moment. I just changed the side. I feel easy. I feel confident, but it happens."

Singh also added that his teammates encouraged him when he went back to the huddle after missing his penalty in the shootout.

He indicated that they were confident that Sandhu, who saved two penalties in India's shootout win in the semifinals against Lebanon, would come up with at least one stop.

"We are very confident. You know Gurpreet bhai is also there, and (we believe) he will save one. I'm very confident, and even my teammates were," Udanta Singh explained.

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Edited by Anantaajith Raghuraman
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