India can compete at big stage but need experience: Gouramangi

Last Updated: Jan 16, 2011, 18:49 PM IST

Doha: Indian football team centre back
Gouramangi Singh feels that the country can catch up with
other nations of Asia with frequent participation in big
events like the ongoing Asian Cup here.

Gouramangi, who scored India`s first goal in the Asian
Cup after the 1964 edition, when he found the target against
Bahrain on Friday, said the players are not overawed by the
reputation of their opponents in the continental showpiece.

"It is a learning curve for us, no doubt, and we are playing
against the best in Asia. We need this kind of matches. I feel
we are as good as any other country and only thing we are
lacking was the experience. With more experience, we can
improve and catch up," Gouramangi said ahead of India`s last
group match against South Korea on Tuesday.

"At a personal level before playing Australia and
Bahrain, you have the feeling that oh you are playing against
top sides and some big players. But once the game starts I am
not overawed and was able to build up the tempo of the game,"
said Gouramangi who joins the likes of legendary footballers
Chuni Goswami and Inder Singh in scoring a goal in the Asian
Cup.

In the 1964 Asian Cup in Singapore, the first time India
took part in the competition, Inder Singh scored twice while
Goswami, Surkumar Samajapati and K Appalaraju found the target
once each in Tel Aviv, Israel.

In the 1984 edition, India crashed out of the group stage
after losing to hosts Singapore, UAE and China and without
scoring a single goal.

Gouramangi`s career graph has been on the rise ever since
the Nehru Cup in 2007 when he was brought into the starting
eleven in place of Deepak Mandal who injured himself in the
very first game of the tournament against Cambodia.

The 24-year-old Manipuri, who was recently declared the
Indian Player of the Year, said what matter is the performance
on the field not the awards and accolades.

"It feels good having scored the first goal but what was
more important that we made a comeback after being 1-0 down.
Obviously, defensively as a team we could have done better in
the game," he explained.

"I think the most difficult thing for every player is to
wake up and go to training, stay fit and maintain the high
standard. I have to work on this every day. The awards come
later. I must thank Churchill Brothers for showing their
belief in me.”

"And, of course I thank Karim (Bencherifa) for giving me
my first break," he said of the former Churchill Brothers
coach and now in-charge of Salgaocar.

Gouramangi has already built a reputation of scoring
important goals for the country and most of his goals have
come from free-kicks and corner kicks.

His first goal came against Maldives in the 2008 SAFF Cup
in India`s 1-0 victory and the second was the winner in the
semifinal against Bhutan in the same competition. His third
goal was against Sri Lanka in the 2009 Nehru Cup which helped
India win the match.

"The goal against Bahrain was my fourth goal. Most of the
goals I have scored have come from set pieces and corners
kicks. I thank coach Bob Houghton who allowed me to go up
during free kicks and corner kicks," said the Churchill
Brothers defender.

PTI