Ronaldo & Neymar fans combine to give Punjab the gold medal
The third edition of the Khelo India Youth Games 2020 saw Punjab's young guns register a 2-0 win in the final match of the U21 Boys football competition against hosts Assam to win the Gold medal on Wednesday here at the Indira Gandhi Athletics Stadium. A tactical masterclass from the visitors saw both their goals being scored in the first half with Kishori (8') and Rohit Sheikh (30') registering their names on the score-sheet.
The two strikers, who are huge fans of two of football's biggest players - Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar Jr, combined well in the final third for Punjab, constantly creating pressure on the Assamese defense. Kishori, who scored early in the match, spoke about his love for the Paris Saint Germain forward. "I have grown up watching him play for some big clubs and Brazil. When I watch him play on the television or the internet, I look very closely and then try to emulate it on the field when I go into practice," said Kishori with a wide smile on his face.
On the other hand, Rohit is a huge fan of the Juventus forward. "I started playing the sport around the same time when Ronaldo was at Manchester United, and then as I grew up and got into competitive football, he became a legend for Madrid. I have always watched him do things which only motivate you when you are a player yourself. It doesn't matter that I'm playing in a small town, I always just want to practice and execute the kind of things he does on a football field," said Rohit.
Having scored the goal in the final from a direct free-kick just outside the opposition's box, Rohit did well to mimic Ronaldo's style, and scored Punjab's second goal to extend his team's lead. "I was really confident when I stepped up to take the kick because I always practice such scenarios in training after watching videos of Ronaldo. We were leading by a goal already in the final, so I just wanted to keep my composure and convert the chance to make it a tough road ahead for Assam," he added.
Kishori, who hails from a small village of Ladhana Ucha in Punjab's Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar district, reflected on his team's gold medal win, "It was a really tough outing for our team because both the teams wanted to win, but we progressed well in the first half, and scored twice to put ourselves in a commanding position. After that, it was about keeping the clean-sheet and not giving them many clear chances," said Kishori, who plays as a forward for Punjab, and has also been on trial with the ISL franchise Bengaluru FC.
Meanwhile Rohit spoke about his journey from being a defender at school level to now playing as a forward at the Khelo India Youth Games 2020, "It was because of my height that I had to make the switch. I used to play as a defender, but when I went to give a trial at the Under-14 level in Hoshiyarpur, the coach there told me that I was really short to be a defender so I had to play as a forward," said Rohit, who hails from Jatana Ucha in Fatehgarh Sahib.
The duo, who will now go back to their respective hometowns, are hopeful of getting the opportunity of giving more trials at Bengaluru FC, who they call "the ideal club to play at for a developing footballer."