Indian Super League (ISL) team FC Goa young goalkeeper Dheeraj Singh has said that being part of the Indian team in international friendly matches helped him in the AFC Champions League (ACL) group stage match. India played friendly matches against Oman and UAE in March and Dheeraj made some good defense. Goa played in the ACL matches in April against Al Rayyan of Qatar and Al Wahda of the UAE.
FC Goa secured a third-place in Group E of the AFC Champions League and it is noted that Dheeraj Singh played a huge part in helping the team, with FC Goa being the first Indian team to play in the Group Stage of the competition. The 20-years-old had been twice been named in the AFC Champions League’s Team of the Week for his performances.
Dheeraj said to AIFF, “After ISL, I got a chance to join the national team. It gave me an opportunity to go to the UAE with the senior team. It was a big inspiration for me to train with Gurpreet Sandhu and Amarinder Singh.”
“Joining the national team had a big impact on my morale. Our coach Juan Fernando also boosts our morale. He tells us to get out on the field and play normal games and we do that,” he said.
“I still remember when the AFC Champions League started, many of my friends asked whether I was ready, and how many goals I expected to concede,” recalled Dheeraj. “We came up as a very strong team that was disciplined and difficult to score against. We did really well in the first two games, and that really gave us confidence to go forward for the rest of the matches. I think it was the benefit of playing the ISL, that we had moved forward together, and could perform at that level.”