Ever since Igor Stimac took charge of the Indian national team at the recently held King's Cup 2019 in Thailand, the Croat has handed as many as six players their senior team debuts, namely Amarjit Kiyam, Brandon Fernandes, Michael Soosairaj, Rahul Bheke, Raynier Fernandes and Sahal Abdul Samad.
The Blue Tigers finished third in the King's Cup, with a 3-1 defeat against Curacao leading them to battle it out in the third-place play-offs where they defeated Thailand 1-0.
In his preliminary squad of 35 players for the national team camp to be held in Mumbai from June 22 ahead of the 2019 Intercontinental in July, Stimac has called up the likes of Ashique Kuruniyan, Mandar Rao Dessai, Narender Gehlot, Nikhil Poojary and Sarthak Golui.
After his selection, FC Goa skipper Mandar Rao Dessai told Goal, "I had a problem (injury) in the past and because of that I guess I was not in the national team. But leaving everything from the past behind is very important for me with this opportunity. I will work hard to be in the team."
Mandar was withdrawn due to injury during of the Indian Super League (ISL) 2018-19 final against eventual champions Bengaluru FC.
"I got injured in the (ISL) final. I think because of that maybe I did not get shortlisted last time but they confirmed with me about my progress before I was called for this camp. It's a really good opportunity for me to play for the national team," he added.
The former Dempo SC player is of the opinion that the new coach, Stimac, is already beginning to bring about the change that he wants after taking over the reigns of the national side from Stephen Constantine who stepped down after the Asian Cup.
"It may take some time. We had another coach (Constantine) and he was there for a long time. So it will take some time to adapt to the new style. He (Stimac) is trying his best and I think the players are also adapting very fast. He is also giving chances to players who have desire. He has observed each and every player ready," he stated.
With regard to the number of debuts under the new coach and also calling defender Anas Edathodika back from international retirement following the 2019 AFC Asian Cup, Dessai believes that Stimac has a plan.
"I think he (Stimac) has been watching all the ISL and I-League videos to spot the best talent who can fit in the national team, to scout and analyse from all the games. The youngsters he has given a chance to have been playing in the junior national teams and I think it is better for them to be in the (senior) national team because they have been doing well.
"There is some plan. Otherwise a coach would never call a player (back from retirement). It's really good for the youngsters to learn from Anas," he remarked.
Meanwhile, Mandar Rao Dessai has made strides into one of his own initiatives for youngsters in Goa, with the MRD Campus 7 where he intends to nurture young talent into the sport.
"We have been doing well for the past one week. All the kids and parents want us to do it throughout the year. So we are working on that also, but I have to concerntrate on my national team call-up too. Once I get free from everything, I will sit and decide how to do it on a larger scale.
"The main thing is, the kids want me to be on the field. They want me to teach them something. I have licensed coaches but still they want me to be there. So whenever I have time and if I can correct them in the right way, I just help them," the Goan explained.
Dessai also admitted that, in time, he may get himself into a more serious role into shaping the prospects of future footballers from the state.
"I think it is good to do licenses and keep, though I need to concerntrate on my playing career right now. I specially want to concerntrate on the young kids because that is what I did not get when I was young. So I think it is better to teach the young kids before the age of 10 or 12 because that's the real time when you can learn the basics," he signed out.