Chattisgarh’s Ranjeet Pandre shares his experience of playing in the Durand Cup

A young and lanky striker turned defender, Ranjeet Pandre is all set to ply his trade in the big leagues now.

A young and lanky striker turned defender, Ranjeet Pandre is all set to ply his trade in the big leagues now.

Sanjeev Verma, who is regarded as one of the old warhorses in the Mumbai football scenario brought Ranjeet in the City of Dreams. When he first came to Mumbai, Ranjeet had his fair bit of struggles. Pandre’s dreams of playing professional football was soon turned into a reality.

Sanjeev was the first among many to identify his individual excellence. He was scouted by the veteran to join the Mumbai Elite Division. Pandre signed for the Union Bank of India and gained valuable experience of playing in the MDFA Elite for a year. His prowess earned him the best striker at the MDFA Elite Division. He went on to play in the Maharashtra team for the Santosh Trophy.

Last year, he joined the current I-League Champions, Chennai City FC and this season represented them in the prestigious Durand Cup. Football Counter was up and close with the budding talent and got to know more about his experience in the 129th edition of the prestigious Durand Cup held in Kolkata.


This is your first Durand Cup, how does it feel to play in one of the oldest tournament?

It feels great to be part of this prestigious tournament. During my childhood days, I dreamt of playing football in India’s biggest stage. To play the Durand cup is like a dream come true for me.

Why playing in the Durand Cup is important for you as a footballer?

Tournaments like Durand Cup are going to encourage the upcoming footballers. We prepared very well before the tournament. Unfortunately, the results were not in our favor. But this is the kind of stage where you actually get noticed and the history of the coveted championship makes it better for us.

What are your plans after the Durand Cup?

After the Durand Cup, my focus is completely on the I-League as we were the champions last season. The expectations are more from us now and we are ensuring more training sessions and hard work in the field.

Your original position is a striker, as we had seen you doing great in the Mumbai league. Now you’re playing as a defender. How has the transition taken place and what are the strategies to start you as a defender?

Yes, I prefer to play as a striker. I have done good in this position but as a player, you have to be ready to adapt in any position the team demands. On-field, it doesn’t matter what is your position, what matters is the contribution you’ve made for your team. And for me, I don’t have difficulties adopting any position. In the end,  you’re required to play with your legs and heart.

What did you learn in your short time in Mumbai with Union Bank of India?

Playing for the Union Bank of India has been one of the turning points of my career. I learned too much here. This is where I professionally got better. I really am thankful to UBI for giving a boost to my footballing career.

Any message to youth about how do you maintain the fitness and mental preparation to play professional football?

For the youth, I want to say never miss your training sessions and give your 200% in the field. There are no secrets to success. Its all about your hard work, preparation and always focusing on your basics. For me, meditation and yoga were helpful to maintain my fitness level.  I still keep on doing the same before matches.

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Also Read: MDFA Nadkarni Cup: Air India trounce Millat FC to go on top in group C
Also Read: Dhanbad Football Academy to start new training center in Mumbai

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