Kolkata, Jan 31 : Goan giants Churchill Brothers have emerged as the early leaders in the race for the I-League crown and one of their standout performers so far has been winger Mumbai lad Bryce Miranda, who has caught the eye with his impressive dribbling and crossing abilities from the flanks in what is his debut season.
“It feels amazing to be part of the I-League. The competition in the league is a bit tough and there’s a lot of pressure in every game, which is something I am getting used to. The quality of players — both Indian and foreign — is very high and I know I have to match up to their levels,” Miranda told I-League.org.
The winger registered his first assist in his side’s win over the Indian Arrows, received the Hero of the Match award for his performance in the draw against Mohammedan Sporting, and opened his goal-scoring account against Sudeva Delhi FC.
“I’m really happy with my performances so far. I want to be consistent and keep performing to meet the expectations of my coach. I got my first assist for my team in our first game, and I was really very happy,” Miranda stated.
“All the players in the team are happy and everyone is giving 100 per cent in training. We want to be on the top of the table, and we want to win every game. We will take each game step by step but are confident in our abilities as we are a tough unit and fighting in each game. We focus more on our attacking play and we want to make the best use of it on the field every time we play,” he said.
A regular in Mumbai’s local football circuit, Miranda’s last season in the Mumbai Elite Division saw him pick up a league-high of 10 assists, besides netting three goals. He also shared how he earned the I-League call-up from Churchill Brothers and expressed his gratitude towards the club for showing faith in his abilities.
“I’ve learned a lot from the local Mumbai circuit and gained a lot of valuable experience playing in the local league. In November, my coach Alex Ambrose [former India international and under-17 women’s national team assistant coach] called and told me that Churchill are willing to give me trials,” he said.
“I was very happy at that moment and I was highly determined to get into the team. After two weeks of trials, I was told that I have been selected for the I-League team. It was like a long-time dream come true. I’ve watched Churchill Brothers play before and I am thankful to them for giving me this opportunity. I hope to make the best of use of it and fulfil my ambition of playing for India,” Miranda, who idolises Blue Tigers winger Udanta Singh, averred.
Miranda, 21, revealed how he had to make the “very tough” decision of choosing between football and hockey as a young kid, but eventually opted for the beautiful game after progressing well in the sport.
“I studied in Don Bosco High School, Matunga, and started playing football from the second grade. I used to play both hockey and football but after my 10th grade, I signed for a club and started focusing completely on football. There was no turning back after that,” he said smilingly.
“Comparing the two sports, I like the game pattern in football more, running after the ball and playing on a big field. It was a very tough decision though and I chose football since I was progressing well in it,” he said.
With the new I-League season being played in Kolkata and Kalyani in a bio-secure bubble owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, the youngster shared his experience of being in the new environment so far.
“Staying in the bio-bubble is a bit tough but we know that have to do this and we have to keep it up. In our free time, or when there is no training, I like to unwind by playing FIFA or watching a movie. The organisers have done a good job by taking care of us in the bio-bubble and the staff has been handling us with care and taking proper responsibility,” said Miranda.
Miranda also expressed joy at the beautiful game and the I-League making a return in India after many months of lockdown.
“It feels amazing that after a long time, football has resumed again in our country. Everyone was waiting eagerly for football to restart and now that the Hero I-League has started, we are all highly motivated and giving our 100 per cent,” he said.