THE BLOG BY CPD FOOTBALL | The World of Indian football and beyond by Chris Punnakkattu Daniel

Opponent coaches laud AIFF for inviting them to Hero Intercontinental Cup

New Zealand head coach Fritz Schmid and left back Thomas Doyle at the Hero Intercontinental Cup pre-match press conference in Mumbai. (Photo courtesy: AIFF Media)

New Zealand and Kenya contingent heaped lavish praises on the All India Football Federation (AIFF) for inviting them to the Hero Intercontinental Cup which they feel is a “unique concept.”

“We would like to grab this opportunity with both hands. On the behalf of the Kenya Football Federation, we would like to thank AIFF for inviting us. It’ll surely be an interesting challenge for our boys and they’re up to utilise this opportunity,” Kenyan assistant coach Francis Kimanji stated. “Here we will get to play against teams of different continents. It’s quite unique.”

Kenya (111) and New Zealand (133), who are separated by 22 spots in the current FIFA ranking are going to lock their horns in the Hero Intercontinental Cup on June 2, 2018. The match will be telecast live on Star Sports 2, 2 HD, Hotstar and Jio TV. Kick-off is at 20.00 IST.

All Whites gaffer Fritz Schmid reiterated the same as well. “We’re excited to be here. It’ll be a great opportunity to test ourselves against strong opponents. We appreciate this initiative from India and our boys are pumped up for some action.”

Meanwhile, New Zealand U-17 side played in Mumbai last year in the first-ever FIFA World Cup hosted by India and coach Schmid didn’t hide the fact that he knocked on their door before coming to India.

“I had all sources available to me before coming to India and I tried to gather as much information as I could.” He further added that they’re going to take one match at a time and right now their entire focus is on Harambee Stars who have come to India at the back of a major victory against Equatorial Guinea.

“All focus is on the next one (game). We’re ready for the challenge, but we’re focusing on one game at a time.”

On the other hand, Kenyan skipper Musa Mohammed mentioned they are very motivated and want to continue the winning momentum on the Indian soil too.

“The win against Equatorial Guinea has given us a much-needed boost for sure. Now, we want to continue the momentum. It’s working as the added motivating factor for us going into this tournament.”

“The African Cup of Nations qualifier is starting in September. It (Hero Intercontinental Cup) is going to be a good reality check for us and we’re ready for that,” Mohammed continued.

Kiwi player Thomas Doyle also praised this initiative highly as they belong to a nation who don’t get many international friendlies a year.

“We don’t get such opportunities pretty often and now given that we are here we won’t let it go easily. We are highly motivated to prove their worth. Moreover, we’ll surely get a lot of learning experience and that’s the best we can gather for future.”

(AIFF Media)