Saturday, May 13, 2023 05:30 [IST]
Last Update: Saturday, May 13, 2023 23:57 [IST]
GANGTOK,: Sikkimese goalkeeper Phurba Lachenpa, who gave a standout performance for Mumbai City FC during the ISL 2022-23, is among the 40 players named for the Indian national camp ahead of the Hero Intercontinental Cup.
The Hero Intercontinental Cup is taking place from June 9 to 19 at Bhubaneswar for which the national camp has been called at the Odisha capital city from May 15.
Four goalkeepers are in the national camp - Vishal Kaith, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Phurba Lachenpa, Amrinder Singh.
Phurba was in Gangtok for the FPAI Indian Football Awards 2023 which was co-hosted by Football Players Association of Sikkim (FPAS) and Football Development private limited on Saturday at Paljor Stadium. He is flying to Bhubaneswar on Sunday.
Speaking to media at Paljor Stadium on Saturday, Phurba said the national camp is an opportunity for all the probables to clinch a berth in the final Indian national team squad. Obviously I aim to play for India and will give my best at the camp not only for myself but also for the people who are watching me back home here in Sikkim, he said.
The upcoming tournament is also important for the players to give their best as it is held in preparation for the AFC Cup. India has qualified for the continental championship which is being held at Qatar in January, 2024.
India is facing Lebanon, Vanuatu and Mongolia in the Intercontinental Cup.
Regarding the FPAI award ceremony being held in Gangtok, Phurba shared that such major football engagements are important to attract the fans and kids towards football and encourage local talents to take football as a career.
“Our senior players are putting their best efforts to bring such events in Sikkim and trying to encourage the young generation towards football. In India we now have a huge opportunity to make a career in football as lots of people are investing in Indian football. Not only from India, investment in Indian football is being made from outside like the business tycoons from Dubai,” said Phurba.
The 25-year-old is a product of State Sports Academy based in Paljor Stadium. He started his professional career with Shillong Lajong and in 2020, he joined the Mumbai City FC in ISL.
The Islanders swept the FPAI Indian Football Awards 2023 with winger Lallianzuala Chhangte awarded as the Indian footballer of the year while coach Des Buckingham bagged the ‘Best Coach’ award and striker Greg Stewart completing the treble with ‘Best Foreign Player’ award.
Asked on this sweep, Phurba said the ISL success and FPAI awards reflect the professionalism shown by Mumbai City FC. “Mumbai City FC is among the top clubs in India not in terms of playing football but also a club on how they treat and take care of their p layers. All the people in the club are very professional,” he said. He congratulated his coach and club mates for the FPAI awards.