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‘Next Generation’ India stay united against Felda

India U-19 national team

India U-19 national team

A couple of days after the Indian Senior National Team played Nepal in preparation for their forthcoming FIFA World Cup Russia 2018 Qualifiers against ‘Giants of Asia,’ Iran, the ‘next generation’ – the India U-19 national team – gears up to take on Felda United FC, Malaysia, in the first home match of the FAM-Frenz Asia Champions Trophy 2015 at the Tilak Maidan, Vasco on Wednesday (September 2). The match kicks-off at 18.00 IST.

The Champions Trophy, an unique concept where U-19 Teams play on a home and away basis provides the players “excellent exposure” to play against different oppositions and most important, in different environments – a concept, which is quite new to Asia, even though such Tournaments stay in prevalence in abundance in Europe.

Head Coach Lee Johnson, a former Coach with Crystal Palace Academy and Chelsea Aademy maintained “it’s a must win match us.”

Speaking at the Official Pre-match Media Interaction at the Tilak Maidan post training, Johnson stressed the Players need to develop the “wining mentality.”

“I want to instill the belief that they can go out and do it. We have got some players back from squad which played in the SAFF U-19 Championship,” he informed.

But at the same time, Vinit Rai has gone back to Dempo SC while Milan Basumataray and Rakesh Oram are nursing injuries. Furthermore, Thakima Ralte stays suspended for the match.

“The intention is to play more in such Competitions. This is such a competitive environment and facilitates development. We have been training since July and had to split the group into two squads as the ACT and the SAFF U-19 were on simultaneously,” Johnson said.

“Looking back, the squad which went into the SAFF U-19 Championship wasn’t our strongest side. In fact, there were nine U-17 Players who represented India in the SAFF U-19 Championship. The entire idea was to give them experience and see how they react,” Johnson echoed. “The result could have been much more different if we had sent our strongest contingent.”

Travelling in such a Tournament is always hectic and that’s what the Players need to cope up with. Isn’t it all part of the growing up?

“When we travelled to Malaysia, we travelled for 17 hours and played the next day. For the next match, we travelled 19 hours to Thailand. Such schedules always have an impact on how a Team plays,” Johnson felt.

The India U-19 side at the moment stays on one point from two away matches. While in the first match, Johnson’s boys drew goalless against Felda United FC, they went down 2-4 to Chonburi FC in the next match.

“This is our backyard and we have the home advantage this time. I have told the boys to think this about being your own Castle,” Lee declared.

“We have been sharp in our training and hoping the Players enact the same in the match. But you can’t commit anything till you do it on the field. The last time we played them, we couldn’t capitalize on our chances.”

“This is the next generation of Indian Players,” Johnson certified. “Potentially, they are good enough and I feel it’s not distant that they may step into the National squad. My aim as a Coach is as much to get results and develop at the same time.”

The British Coach also made a mention of the two practice matches which his side played against Bengaluru FC. “I need to thank the Club for providing us the opportunity. It was a massive experience for the boys as it’s not every day that you get to play against 7-8 International Players,” he pronounced.

“In both the matches, the Players surprised me by the manner in which they played in the first half. But we lost a bit of discipline and concentration in the second halves (in both the matches). That’s understandable as you were playing with some of the best of the Country.”

“There were so many positives from the fixture.”

(Report & Photo courtesy AIFF Media)