Ramsay’s resilience rewarded with goal vs Maldives
MALE–Iain Ramsay found himself falling down the pecking order over the course of the last few months with the national team before slowly but surely working his way back into the starting XI last month when the Azkals held China to a goalless stalemate in World Cup Qualifying.
That’s why Ramsay couldn’t help but let out a roar after scoring for the Azkals for the first time in more than two years in the 2-1 victory over the Maldives last Thursday at National Stadium here.
The win kept the Azkals in the hunt for a place in the third round of qualifying for football’s showpiece event in Qatar in 2022 as they are now tied with China with seven points in Group A.
For Ramsay, the goal was a reward for soldiering on even when his playing time with the team dwindled.
“In football, nothing is every rosy, nothing is ever on a straight line,” Ramsay said.
“There were some bumps along the way and it takes some resilience to survive. When I’m on the bench, I tried to stay positive as I can.”
Azkals coach Scott Cooper and goalkeeper Neil Etheridge, who is one of Ramsay’s closest friends on the team, were delighted for the winger as he put on a solid shift on the left and even had to play at the back
following Daisuke Sato’s injury late on.
“First of all, Iain (Ramsay) is a consummate professional,” said Cooper. “Anybody who is playing can display a good character. But players who have been in and out of the squad those are the type of players who display character. They’re the ones whose characters are really tested. Iain has been consistent with his focus and attitude.
“We’ve had a talk about his strengths our expectations and the way he’s valued and Iain has appreciated that. Iain is a player who can play multiple positions and you can see by the end of the game, he was at left back. He’s stuck around and gone through some hard times, but Iain has been focused and loyal to the country.”
Etheridge was glad to see Ramsay find the target on the back of a stellar showing against China last October in Bacolod. “I’m really happy for him and for anyone on the team who scores, but obviously he’s one of my closest friends on the team,” said Etheridge.
“Every time he’s come in, he’s always produced. It’s never easy being any player here, because there’s competition for places. But he’s played well in the last two games and its fantastic to see him score
Ramsay credits his rejuvenated form to the confidence growing within the team that is set to travel to Dubai for the duel with group leader Syria on Tuesday.”The whole squad has been positive,” said Ramsay.
“We’ve got a good group growing together, and we have some momentum going into the Syria match. I’m growing in confidence and I’m enjoying football and obviously everyone can see that. The most important thing is we got the three points here. Scott (Cooper) has got the team tactically right. We’re working hard for each other, we’re a tight knit group.”
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