The Dempo SC cadet has hinted he could extend his stay with FC Goa has spent six years in the club.
Mandar Rao Dessai has come a very long way for FC Goa since the beginning of this Indian Super League (ISL), having completed over 100 appearances from the league. He’s the only Indian player to have featured for the same club in most seasons of the ISL up to now.
But Mandar’s contract in Goa is coming to an end shortly and the participant is coy on an extension.
“I’ve played with this club for six decades and also finished my 100 games. Obviously, I’ve learned a lot from this club and the men and women working with the club and the players came in when I was there. Now, let us see how it goes. Perhaps I will extend the contract,” he advised.
The 2019 Super Cup winner made his maiden global cap under India head coach Igor Stimac as a left full-back from the goalless draw against Qatar in July 2019, despite being called up to national team camps by former national team coach Stephen Constantine at the days he played as a left-winger.
Dessai credits the fulfillment of his India fantasy to former FC Goa head coach Sergio Lobera that transitioning him into a left-back two seasons back.
“A big thank you for Sergio, actually, since he thought more than me when he explained ‘you’ll do better in this position’. He explained that it will take a while but after a few matches, you’ll be comfortable in this position.
“After few games it was becoming easier for me. I asked the trainer so many times what I need to do better. I also have heard from my own videos and regular I love to improve myself,” he said.
FC Goa became the first Indian side to claim a berth in the AFC (Asian Football Confederation) Champions League group stage but failed to make it beyond the ISL playoffs last year.
“When Sergio came in 3 decades ago, the group had a lot to achieve,” Dessai reminisced. “From the very beginning, we wanted to win prizes and we’ve been on the top-four five occasions in the six seasons. So this is truly great for the team.
“We’ve got two prizes, the Super Cup and the (ISL) League Winners Shield. We really wanted to win the ISL after dropping the last year. After the league decided that the winner of the regular season receives the AFC Champions League group point, we had to struggle for 2 prizes. We reached the first target and despite giving our best, we were outside in the semi-finals,” he deplored.
It was in 2019, throughout the off-season, the participant chose to do his own bit for the possible talent of the next generation with the initiation of the MRD 7 Campus that plans to coach children aged 8-10 on the fundamentals of football.
“We were supposed to have a one-and-half-month camp for the children this year too but have kept it on hold due to the coronavirus outbreak,” Dessai educated. “We essentially concentrate on grassroots, like children under 10. I understand that we didn’t have anything on the grassroots level once I was small. So concentrating at this level is more important.”
Determined by how his campus differs from grassroots programs held by local clubs, he continued,”They (nightclubs ) have a good deal of kids because they may cater to the amount. I mostly keep our number to less than 30 so that the children receive proper attention from the coaches. My brothers and friends help me in the venture.”
“There are a few boys, particularly from schools, for whom we hold camps and choose kids based on who can play at the moment and who must learn from scratch,” he added.
Finally, a word of counsel from the Goan celebrity to keep social distancing on account of the coronavirus outbreak, he urged, “Everybody needs to look after themselves. If the World Health Organisation (WHO) has advised people to stay home, it is because it is good for all of us. We will need to break the string (of the pandemic).”