Asian Football Interviews Transfers

“I Didn’t Have To Think Twice About It” : Karan Sobti Joins Tanjong Pagar United On Loan

Just when you thought Tanjong Pagar United have concluded their transfer business this window, it seems like they have a few more additions to make. One of these signings is the ever so talented Karan Sobti, who joins Tanjong Pagar on loan from Lion City Sailors. Still only 17, Karan has often been touted as a potential successor to the national team goalkeeping spot in the future following his displays during the 2019 AFC Under-16 Championship Qualifiers. While he still has some way to go before he breaks into the senior national team, the young custodian has immense potential and it is important that he fulfils it.

A loan move certainly gives Karan a better chance to acquire game time, which would further hone his skills. With Lion City Sailors acquiring Izwan Mahbud for the 2022 campaign, it was always going to be a tussle between Hassan Sunny and Izwan for the starting keeper spot. The Sailors knew this but had one eye to the future. Rudy Khairullah was thus loaned out to Balestier Khalsa for more game time a few weeks ago. We now see Karan join Tanjong Pagar United in a similar arrangement.

Image Credits: Tanjong Pagar United

“Going on loan was the original plan set out for me by the Lion City Sailors for the 2022 season,” shares Karan. “Tanjong Pagar are a club with a great squad being built and once they expressed interest in taking me on board for the season, I didn’t have to think twice about it.”

After spending the past season (2021) developing with Lion City Sailors and Young Lions the season before (2020), Karan is exposed to a new football environment at Tanjong Pagar United – one that sees him gain more first-team training and work with Noh Alam Shah.

“I’m excited to get work with Noh Alam Shah, such a well-regarded figure in the ASEAN football community, who I’m sure will be able to help me grow as a football player,” mentions the custodian. “I want to be able to help the team as much as possible in order to achieve their goals for the season, and at the same time to gain valuable experience from being in a first-team setting week in week out.”

Settling down at a new club is a daunting experience for any footballer, regardless of their age, but Karan can count on a few familiar faces to help facilitate his assimilation into the Jaguars. Fatullah Rahmat and Naufal Ilham are two players that Karan is familiar with, and seeing both players, who are around his age, excel at Tanjong Pagar last season did influence his decision to sign with the club on loan. He is also glad that Aqhari Abdullah, who he spent time together with during Sailors’ first-team training sessions last season, is also in the squad.

One other player that Karan looks to be working with even more closely is fellow keeper, Zharfan Rohaizad.

“I’ve spent some time with Zharfan in 2021 training with Edge of the Box and Rory and he’s a great guy who is a top goalkeeper, and I’m truly grateful to have been given the chance to be able to fight for a spot in the starting 11,” mentions Karan. “At the same time, I want to learn from and grow together with the other keepers in the squad. So, I look forward to working closely with Zharfan again.”

Occasional appearances could put the young goalie in contention for a spot for the upcoming Southeast Asian Games. However, Karan is not thinking too much about that and is fully committed to doing his best for his new team.

Image Credits: Tanjong Pagar United

“Obviously, would be nice to be involved in the upcoming SEA Games, but at the moment, I am fully focused on giving quality performances for the club and working as hard as I can every single day,” he explains. “We will see what comes as a by-product of producing on the pitch. Once my loan move finishes I’ll be looking at National Service and everything that comes with that, continuing to work hard to show what I’m worth, and let’s see what the future brings!”

Gaining enough game time before enlistment is going to be crucial for a talented prospect like Karan, and the loan move would surely put him in the best position to add first-team minutes under his belt. Of course, there is only but one keeper in the squad and managers never really like to swap around their custodians for the sake of stability. However, with an increased amount of fixtures in the Singapore Premier League and the return of the Singapore Cup, Tanjong Pagar may indeed switch their keepers around. Notably, fielding Karan could potentially be an interesting tactical ploy by the Jaguars since he would qualify as a U-23 player. Nevertheless, making the jump to the professional level is no walk in the park and Karan knows that he needs to consistently give his all to earn his chance.

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