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India U-16 coach Nicolai Adam: We are not the favourites

India U-16 national team

India U-16 national team

India’s future U-17 FIFA World Cup squad go into their “first real international experience”, at the AFC U-16 Championship Qualifiers scheduled to kick-off at Tabriz City, Iran from tomorrow (Wednesday, September 16). India who have been clubbed in Group E with hosts Iran, strong contenders Bahrain and a talented Lebanon play their first match against Bahrain on the day.

Close on the heels of the exposure tour in Germany, Head Coach Nicolai Adam spoke to AIFF Media on the stint in Germany, the contenders in the group, the confidence of the boys, acclimatization, the opener against Bahrain and much more.


How much was the stint in Germany helpful?
The stint in Germany was extremely helpful. We played 14 matches, won eight of them, lost four while two ended in draws. But it wasn’t just about getting good match experience. The whole setup there was good for us as we trained every day, sometimes even twice a day. Add to that the food was good and it was an entirely professional environment. Unfortunately, you don’t find it everywhere.

How much of that has rubbed onto the confidence of the boys?
Even though we had good exposure in Germany, at the end of the day this will be their first real international experience. One may be tempted to say that some of the boys did play in the U-16 SAFF Championship but in all probabilities, SAFF Countries won’t qualify for the U-17 World Cup. So as we are in preparatory process for the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup, for me this is the first real international experience for the boys.
The boys have every reason to be self confident but there’s always a fine line between self confidence and arrogance.

How tough would it get, especially against hosts Iran?
Extremely tough! Iran are one of the teams which stay in contention to qualify for the U-17 World Cup. So if they qualify for the U-17 World Cup in 2017, we may not meet them again in the group stage.
But the quality of Iran is something which we are looking to play against. It is that kind of caliber which we will have to deal with regularly in the future and it’s something we are looking forward to.

What are your thoughts prior to India’s opener against Bahrain?
It’s not an understatement but for sure we won’t be starting as the favourites in the match. We will do our best and I can only say that it won’t be easy to beat us.
We have done our job and prepared the boys well for the different scenarios that might come. We have different match plans and it’s now up to the boys to bring it to the pitch.

What about the acclimatisation?
It was a very hot summer in Germany and the weather is almost the same to what we experienced in Germany. It’s just a bit more windy here.

… And the pitch at the Gostaresh Foolad Stadium?
In my opinion it stays biggest challenge – the pitch at the Stadium. It is very deep and though we played a lot of matches on different pitches we haven’t played on a pitch like that. That might be a problem but we will see as and when it kicks-off.

(Interview & Photo courtesy AIFF Media)