ATK has got three of their men Arindam Bhattachrya, Balwant Sing and Pronay Halder into the final twenty eight men squad of India for AFC Cup 2019 announced by Stephen Constantine. Sanjoy Sen, the technical director and head of youth development for ATK spoke to us up close and personal on varied topics which included his long rapport with Pronay Halder, Balwant Singh and Pritam Kotal.
He also shared his views on the current national team and was straight forward to utter his opinion about the discrepancies going on in national team selection. The I-League winning coach with Bagan also gave a hint into his future plans with ATK. Here is the conversation that excerpts more…
● Talk Sports 24×7: ATK has got three of their first team men into the final 28 men Indian squad for AFC Cup. What’s your take on it?
○ Sanjoy Sen: It’s a great achievement for the trio to get into the national team. But for me it’s a far more commendable job for Arindam as he got a chance in the national team after a long time. ATK gave him the chance to be the first goal keeper this saeson and he utilized it very well to achieve his place into the national squad. On the other hand Pronay and Balwant are making their place much better with each passing day.
● Talk Sports 24×7: Balwant Singh, Pronay Halder and Jeje used to be your finest cards during the I-Lague winning campaign for Mohun Bagan and now for the past couple of years they had turned to be a constant name in the Indian squad. How do you feel about your “boys”?
○ Sanjoy Sen: Actually I am very proud of them and I fill I was lucky enough to work with players like them who are shining now and are getting international exposures. I don’t want to take the credit because I think it’s completely their credit and dedication. They allowed me to nurture them as for me it’s the coach who takes a player to a certain level that he was not into earlier and I have just provided them that tuning which they responded very well.
● Talk Sports 24×7: Pritam Kotal has just signed for ATK. He is another of your “winning boys” from your I-League winning campaign. What’s on your take on him?
○ Sanjoy Sen: I have known Kotal since 2007 when he played in Pailan Arrows under me and I think his signing will end up ATK with a great result.
● Talk Sports 24×7:
Fans are telling that Sanjoy Sen is slowly showing off his “Wild Cards”. How much do you agree?
○ Sanjoy Sen: It’s not at all like that. Whenever the management has asked for my help I have come up wholeheartedly and have been lucky to give a good return. So I wish this move will also be favorable for the team. I will be very happy if ATK can gain from my capabilities.
● Talk Sports 24×7: Komal Thatal also got his maiden senior national team call this season while playing for ATK. What’s your opinion about his future?
○ Sanjoy Sen: When I joined ATK I knew that Komal was lacking play time as the former coaches Ashley Westwood and Teddy Sheringham didn’t came up with too many chances for him. I saw one of the U17 World Cup matches where Komal played in the left wing half so I kept an eye on him in the training and proposed Steve Copell to give him a chance. I am thankful to Steve as he listened to my opinion. He played in ATK shirt and it lead to his national team call so I am overwhelmed with it.
In ATK I have got a very good rapport as the management, coaching staff and the players listen to me whenever I give them an advice. It’s too early for these young lads in their career so it’s my philosophy to give them some chances to refrain them from frustrations. On the other hand it provides them the stage to showcase their talent and capabilities and boost them to perform better.
● Talk Sports 24×7:
How inspiring these national team calls are for the youths of ATK Academy as you are the head of Youth Development of the club?
○ Sanjoy Sen: The academy lads should definitely follow the achievements of the trio as it will inspire them to work harder to get into the senior squad. Cause if they can make into the senior team they may also receive a call to the national team. It’s a dream for every player to flaunt in his national color at least once in his life time. So these achievements may be the spark for them to turn into a better flame. I have always believed in a team having strong foundation in the grass root service cause if we have a constant and better service line we need not have to search for foreign players to fill the void. Previously I have worked with Mr. Collin Toal in the Pailan Arrows project and it had helped me a lot to work with the youths and I always tried to give chances to young players wherever I have been, cause for me it’s my job to give them chances.
● Talk Sports 24×7: What changes would you have made in the current national squad if you were in the helm?
○ Sanjoy Sen: Out of this twenty eight men squad I think at least ten are there who do not deserve to be in the national squad and have not performed up to the mark to be in the national colours. It’s not so as it is now to be in the national squad. The team lacks people who deserve to be there. For me Rahul Bheke has come up with an outstanding performance this season and deserves to be in the final squad along with Ricky who has probably been the best left back in ISL this season. Jobby Justin is another boy with such a great game, with due respect to Balwant I think Jobby has performed far better than Balwant with such athletism, scoring capabilities and work load. This young boy should have got a chance but the selectors didn’t bother to call him. I don’t know what Stephen Constantine wants to do because we are in an age when we are void of good Indian strikers but the national team is not giving place to a promising and emerging young striker. What can be harsher than this?
It’s high time we need to tell the truth loud and clear I think everyone who follows Indian football is conscious about this misdeed and I am not the only one to spot it out.
● Talk Sports 24×7: What are your expectations from India in the AFC Asian Cup campaign and how far can they go according to you?
○ Sanjoy Sen: As an Indian I will always expect my nation to qualify for the nest round but is quite tough. If we look into the stats of last three months we can see that among Sandesh, Narayan das, Anas and Pritam Kotal; only Sandesh has performed well to some extent. Probably Subhasis Bose will get a chance and he deserves it. But how can they come up with a solid defense with these men is a big question for me. If they can play a better game then it will definitely be a great achievement for us. We can expect a good result if we can see the quality of football we played against Chinese Taipei having Gurpreet Singh Sandhu in a rock solid form under the bars.
I will not say that it is impossible but it is definitely tough and if we can win against such quality teams then it will be a proud moment for us. We have chances to win the first match against Thailand. But the other two matches need superior tactics to come up with better results. These chances are not very frequent so if we can inspire them a lot we may expect a better game on field.
● Talk Sports 24×7: What are your future plans?
○ Sanjoy Sen: No such future plans right now. I am waiting for the season to get over then I will think of the next season. In every club I maintain a contract of one year be it Mohun Bagan or Mohameddan. People may say I am a bit demanding or choosy for I cannot work in a setup that doesn’t match with my mindset. It may be a bad habit of mine. So I am focused on the current season and will think further after it’s over.
● Talk Sports 24×7: Thanks a lot for your time and wish you a great season ahead!
○ Sanjoy Sen: My Pleasure!