Ashique Kuruniyan is one of the finest young talents in Indian football right now. He has established himself as a regular member of the national team and is also one of the star players at Indian Super League (ISL) club Bengaluru FC.
The 23-year-old made his international debut back in 2018 in the Intercontinental Cup in Mumbai against Chinese Taipe. The Malayali winger-turnt-wing-back, in an online interview on Instagram, said that representing his country was the proudest moment in his life.
"Making the national team debut was the proudest moment of my life. The atmosphere was amazing at the stadium. I was so happy representing the national side,” said Kuruniyan.
The footballer from Malappuram also started in India’s Asian Cup 2019 opener against Thailand in UAE, a match in which he was deployed as a false nine by then Indian coach Stephen Constantine. The footballer chose the game against Thailand as his most memorable national team performance.
“The best match of my national team career so far was the one against Thailand in the Asian Cup 2019.”
Being a Malayali hot prospect, he is often compared to and talked about in the same manner as Kerala Blasters star Sahal Abdul Samad. Ashique suggested that Sahal is player who will constantly improve.
“We are very good friends. We all know how talented he is and he is also a hard worker. He is constantly improving. He is already doing so well for the national team and I am sure he will improve even more in future."
Kuruniyan, who is predominantly a winger, has been used in multiple positions by his coaches at the club and national level.
Although he initially started out as a winger, he was deployed as a left-back in his second season at Pune City. Following his move to Bengaluru, head coach Carles Cuadrat has also made use of the player's versatility.
When asked about his preferred position, the youngster suggested that he is comfortable playing in any role that he is assigned.
“I just want to be a part of the starting lineup. It does not matter to me which position I play. In my opinion, playing as a full-back and winger is not that different. If I play as a winger I have to track back and defend along with attack and vice versa. But if I have to choose one I will choose right-wing,” stated the 23-year-old.