Goa, May 18 : Indian Super League (ISL) side FC Goa's young goalkeeper Dheeraj Singh said on Monday that his stint with the Indian squad for international friendlies has helped him greatly in the AFC Champions League (ACL) Group Stage matches for his club.
After an stint in the UAE in March, where India played friendlies against Oman and the UAE, Dheeraj made some good saves, helping FC Goa draw three games against Qatar's Al Rayyan and the UAE's Al Wahda in the ACL matches in Goa in April.
Dheeraj effected 26 saves in five games, helping FC Goa finish third in the prestigious continental tournament.
"I got the national team call-up right after the ISL. It gave me the opportunity to travel with the senior team to the UAE. It was a big motivation for me to train with Gurpreet [Sandhu] and Amrinder [Singh]. I was so motivated at that point that I reported straight to Goa [venue for all AFC Champions League Group E matches] after we came back," said the 20-year-old.
"Getting into the national team had a big impact on my confidence. Our coach (Juan Ferrando) also gave us a lot of confidence, taking the pressure off our shoulders. He told us to go out there and play our normal game, and that's what we did." Dheeraj said that Al Wahda head coach Henk ten Cate walked up to him and heaped praise for his exploits under the bar. "It felt very good to be praised by such a high-profile and respected coach."