EXCLUSIVE: Mumbai Locals Shubham and Melroy share their experience of playing in the Durand Cup for Chennaiyin FC

The two times ISL champions, Chennaiyin FC concluded their Durand Cup campaign on equal terms against Indian Airforce yesterday. Chennaiyin FC didn’t have a dream start to the historic tournament. They went down by 4 goals against Semi-Finalists, Gokulam Kerala FC on their first match. Furthermore, their second fixture against TRAU FC got cancelled due to a heavy thunderstorm.

However, there are many positives the reserves side of the ISL Franchise took from the coveted competition.

We got hold of Shubham Mane and Melroy Assisi, the young midfielders from Mumbai who plies their trade in Chennaiyin FC. Here is what they said,

EXCERPTS:

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

Shubham: It feels great to play in the Durand Cup as it is the oldest tournament in India. There’s good exposure for the players.

Melroy: It was a great experience to play in front of a huge crowd. The feeling was likely very different from the matches I’ve played earlier in the MDFA or Junior I-League. The intensity of the matches was very high and competitive. As the tournament is hosted in Kolkata, crowds turned up in large numbers and it was very encouraging for us young footballers. Altogether it was a pleasant experience.

 

 What did you learn in your short time playing in MDFA Elite division?

Shubham: I’ve learnt a lot while playing in Air India. It has helped me to reach this far and also develop me as a player.

Melroy: Playing in Union Bank with the seniors was a good learning experience. After playing Junior I-League for Mumbai FC, I moved on to Union Bank and it helped me grow better as a player. We played a number of practice matches with teams like Mumbai City FC and travelled to different parts of India for all India tournaments.

 

What are your plans after the Durand Cup?

Shubham: I’ll work on my mistakes and put in extra effort to prepare myself for the upcoming challenges.

Melroy: Durand cup has helped me to understand my current situation, and how much more I need to improve. After Durand Cup, we’ll be going back to the training centre at Chennai and restart for the upcoming season.

 

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

Shubham: It’s a great platform for players to perform and grow.

Melroy: Durand Cup is one of the oldest tournaments in India. Most of the I-League clubs compete in this tournament. It is important for us ‘B’ team players to perform well at this platform. It will help us to get promoted to the first team or get picked up by other teams.

 

What things should be improved further in your team to become a strong contender of the Durand Cup from the upcoming season?

Shubham: We need to focus on individual strengths and also work together as a team.

Melroy:  We are a young side, this tournament is a big platform for us to showcase our talent. We’re all learning, and lacking in many things, we’ll be working on it in our practice sessions before the next match. We have to start playing more of attacking football and score as many goals as we can. The last match was difficult for us and we have to learn and improvise on our mistakes. We need to combine well in attack as well as in defence. Let’s take it to the next match and wait for the result.

 

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