The Chennaiyin FC midfielder is all set for national duty after an injury-laden ISL season…
The seventh edition of the Indian Super League (ISL) was a year to forget for both Chennaiyin FC and their star midfielder Anirudh Thapa. While the club finished at the eighth position on the league table, the midfielder through an injury-laden campaign.
Both Thapa and Chennaiyin kicked-off the season in style as the midfielder scored the first goal in Chennaiyin’s 2-1 win over Jamshedpur in their first game but as the season progressed both the club and the player experienced tough times.
Anirudh Thapa appeared in 14 matches this season, scoring two goals, but was out of action for more than two weeks midway into the campaign due to an injury. He suffered that injury at a time when his form looked on the up. Moreover, he had to sit on the sidelines again during the season through fitness concerns after recovering.
For a player who consistently performed at a very high level for the past few years, this year was nothing short of a disappointment for the midfielder.
Thapa, though, is confident that he and his club will be able to overcome the bad phase and start afresh.
“It was definitely a massive challenge for me, sidelined with injury,” Thapa told Goal. “It ended up being a stop-start season for me, definitely not something any player wishes for. But it is a part and parcel of the game, and I am glad I could come through this tough spell. As Chennaiyin, we will bounce back and come back stronger next season. We owe it to our fans.”
He added, “I think it just was one of those seasons were things kept going against us, with injuries as well. But we can’t blame anyone. We only have to focus on the positives, obviously, learn from our mistakes and come back stronger as a unit next season. We’ve always shown that fighting spirit. So I am certain next season will be better, and we will be challenging on all fronts.”
The midfielder has managed to make it to the national team squad despite all the setbacks and he is now raring to give his best in India’s upcoming friendly games against Oman and UAE.
“Any opportunity to go shoulder to shoulder with sides like Oman and UAE is more than welcome. It is fantastic that we have these friendly games against top quality opponents. And with many players new to the national team setup, I am certain it will be an incredible learning experience for them as well. We are all raring to go in the upcoming friendlies while preparing hard for the qualifiers in June,” said a confident Thapa.
The midfielder is also looking forward to playing alongside some new faces who have come up the ranks and made it to the national side this time.
“It is a really exciting time for Indian football. The emergence of top Indian talent is amazing to see. The likes of Lalengmawia, Rahul KP and many others surely are the stories everyone wants to see, coming out of the ISL. And the ones who have been called up to the national team have fully deserved it. I am waiting to link up with them on the pitch, and I am certain it will also bring the best out of me,” said the Chennaiyin star.
Thapa suggested that he doesn’t want to look too far into the future when asked if the plan of the Indian team is to secure an automatic berth in the qualifiers for the Asian Cup, but they are rather taking one step at a time.
“We need to take one game at a time. Instead of focusing on what happened before the lockdown when we last played as a national team, we must focus on the here and now. And also, not look too forward. Right now, we need to make the best use of these friendly games to gel as a unit, and then give our everything in the qualifiers. We have shown our potential in recent times, we need to take inspiration from that and go out again to make our country proud,” opined the 23-year-old player.