Indian football team defender Pritam Kotal is excited to play his first match at the home ground and promised to give his all when his side face Bangladesh in a World Cup qualifiers game at the Saltlake Stadium here on October 15.
After a gritty goal-less draw against Asian champions Qatar in Doha, the Indian players are currently in a preparatory camp in Guwahati.
The Igor Stimac-coached side will reach here on Sunday in what would be India's first match in Kolkata since their 3-2 win over Malaysia in a friendly in November 2011.
"It's going to be the first International match in Kolkata for almost everyone of us (except Sunil Chhetri). It's a bit more emotional for me. I'm thrilled but I can't afford to be carried away by the occasion. If our coach puts in faith on me, I'll give my life," the 26-year-old, who made his international debut in 2015, told PTI from Guwahati.
Ticket demands has been on a high with already 34,000 being sold and Kotal urged the fans to turn up in large numbers.
"The coach has already invited everyone to the stadium so that we can win it together. I'll also welcome every single football lover to the stadium. You are our biggest strength, our 12th man. Let's win it together," Kotal, who plays for ATK in the India Super League, said.
He also remembered India's goal-less draw against Qatar where the defence was tested to the hilt. Led by goalkeeper Gurpeet Singh Sandhu, India held on to a draw to become the first Asian side to avoid defeat against Qatar this year.
"Gurpreet-bhai probably put up one of his best performances till now. He led us from the front that night. Making 11 saves in a match speaks volume. But, as we saw, others also had a perfect outing which eventually, culminated in the result. Football is a team game and we have to play it likewise."
The right back said head coach Stimac being a defender himself was a big help in the transformation of the team.
"Our coach was a great player himself during his playing days. That is an added bonus for us as he was a defender. He has brought in an enormous experience of playing and coaching at that level and it helps us immensely," the local player said.
"He teaches minute technical things and rectifies the mistakes as well. Maintaining the defensive shape, when to hurl an attack, the timing of the execution is very important and he stresses on that. Maintaining on-field communication is another important aspect which he always puts stress on."
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