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Exclusive Manisha Kalyan: "The opportunity to play for India is hard to get; so give your all," Manisha to youngsters

In an exclusive interview for Sportz Point via AIFF Media, Manisha Kalyan shared her message for the young newcomers of the Indian Women's National Football team.

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Koushik Biswas
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Exclusive Manisha Kalyan: "The opportunity to play for India is hard to get; so give your all," Manisha to youngsters

Manisha Kalyan scored two goals against Estonia in the first game of Turkish Women's Cup 2024. Image | AIFF

The Indian Women's National Football team kicked off the Turkish Women's Cup with a win over Estonia, scoring four goals to their opponent's three. The Blue Tigresses' Manisha Kalyan scored twice, while Pyari Xaxa and Indumathi scored the other goals. The team is set to face Hong Kong in their next match, and ahead of the game, the star midfielder shared her thoughts in an exclusive interview with Sportz Point.

The win against Estonia in a seven-goal thriller was the Indian Women's Football team's first win in six games after five back-to-back defeats in Olympic Qualifiers and Asian Games. Manisha feels winning against European teams like Estonia will help the team boost their confidence. Moreover, she is delighted to get the goals early in the tournament as well.

"Feels great to get the three points. It's a good start. I think the team will get motivation from this win to face Hong Kong in the next match," Manisha told Sportz Point via AIFF Media.

Talking about scoring against European countries like Estonia, she said, "I feel the European football standard is a bit better than the Asian football. So, it is a good experince for a team when you score and beat European teams and it makes the team more confident as well," Manisha added.

Manisha Kalyan playing for Apollon Ladies F.C. in Cyprus.
Manisha Kalyan playing for Apollon Ladies F.C. in Cyprus.

Manisha has been playing for Apollon Ladies F.C. in Cyprus and has experience playing in European conditions. She made history as the first Indian woman to win a European Championship when Apollon won the 2022–23 Cypriot Women's League. Additionally, Manisha Kalyan was the first Indian footballer to play in the UEFA Women's Champions League when she featured for Apollon against Rīgas FS in the UWCL Qualifying round.

The 22-year-old attacking midfielder, a Lionel Messi fan, believes that playing against different styles of teams in Europe is beneficial when facing teams like Estonia.

"My club (Apollon Ladies F.C) have a different style of play. Mostly all the European teams have different styles of play. Estonia have a different style as well. So, it feels good when you do well against all these teams," Manisha Kalyan expressed.

Indian players celebrate a goal against Estonia in the Turkish Women's Cup 2024.
Indian players celebrate a goal against Estonia in the Turkish Women's Cup 2024.

Manisha may be young, but she is a senior player in the Indian Women's National Football team. She has been a part of the National team since 2019 and has played in 34 games for the Blue Tigresses. However, with new upcoming talents making their way through the India Women's League, there is now competition for Manisha's position in the starting lineup.

According to Manisha, the competition for her position within the team motivates her to work harder. She believes this competition helps the team improve as a whole. For this reason, she encourages the younger players to take pride in representing the tricolour and to give their best effort if they aspire to be like their role model, "Manisha Di".

"My message for the youngsters would be to keep working hard, do your best and give your all. The opportunity to play for India is very difficult to get. So, I want them to take pride in paying for the national team. It is always a special feeling when you sing the national anthem on the field," Manisha stated.

"I have no problem with competitions. I feel it's good if someone is playing better than me. It also feels good to give them competition so that they can get better to be where I am now."

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