New Delhi [India], September 26 (ANI): One of the most unique things about the I-League Qualifiers 2021 is the fact that as many as seven teams will get the chance to showcase their talent on the national level for the first time. Amongst them is Madan Maharaj FC, which will be looking to put the state on the Indian Football map.
While Madan Maharaj FC may be one of the debutant clubs to take part in the Hero I-League Qualifiers, the team management has pulled out all the stops to make sure that the players are acclimatised to the rigours of playing from within a bio-bubble.
"We already have a few players who have the experience of playing in a bio bubble earlier. So they are sharing their experience of playing in the bubble with the other players," said head coach Amit Kumar Jaiswal as per i-league.org.
"For the pre-season, we have also created a bio-bubble environment, where the team's movement is restricted, and are working on the mental aspect of staying in such an environment," he continued.
The team management has left no stone unturned, as the players are also being provided with psychiatric aid in order to help them function properly from inside a bubble.
"We are also having sessions with some sports psychologists, and the players are responding very well. We are confident that they will be prepared for the Hero I-League Qualifiers once we go to Bangalore," stated Jaiswal.
The team had started its pre-season training in Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh, before shifting base to Kolkata where they have played friendlies against a number of local clubs.
While Madan Maharaj FC is playing at this level for the first time, the club itself was formed in 1992 and has taken part in a number of state-level tournaments, before winning the Madhya Pradesh Premier League earlier this year, which finally earned them a spot in the Hero I-League Qualifiers.
The club has managed to attract a couple of big-name signings in the form of Siyam Hanghal and former India International Mehtab Hossain, who has come back from retirement to join the club as the captain-cum-mentor.
"We have made a few big signings this season. We've got the likes of Mehtab Hossain and Siyam Hanghal, both of whom bring enormous amounts of experience. They have played in the top level in India, and will bring a winning mentality, which is an important aspect," informed Jaiswal.
"They are leaders on the pitch, and idols off it, and help guide the youngsters. The team is gelling well, as we are working to blend together as a more competitive and winning team," he added.
Mehtab Hossain, who is arguably one of the most experienced players in the I-League Qualifiers this season, is using all the tricks of the trade that he has learnt, to help the players.
"The atmosphere is very nice among the boys, and if we get a few more additions, we can be a top team here," said Mehtab.
"A captain should always be at the forefront and guide the players. I've learnt so much during my time with the National Team, East Bengal, Mohun Bagan, and Kerala Blasters," he said further.
While Mehtab himself is an extremely decorated player, not being able to win the I-League title is something that has been a minor blot on an otherwise enviable career. However, helping a club from Madhya Pradesh gain promotion to the Hero I-League for the first time will go a long way for the veteran midfielder.
"I don't have any regrets, but as a player, you always want to win tournaments. I may not have won the I-League, but it will be very good if I can help this club gain promotion to that level," stated Mehtab, adding, "no other side from Bhopal has ever played in the I-League, and it will be huge for football in the state. Every player is ready for the league, and we are pumped up to put in our performance once we are in Bengaluru." (ANI)