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Derrick Pereira: It’s a great honour and I’m excited for this opportunity

India U-23 head coach Derrick Pereira. (Photo courtesy: AIFF Media)
India U-23 head coach Derrick Pereira. Photo courtesy: AIFF Media

Derrick Pereira feels it’s a “great honour” for him to get the opportunity of coaching the India U-23 National Team prior to the AFC U-23 Championship 2020 qualifiers.

“I’m feeling privileged to be involved with the National Team. It’s a great honour for me and I’m excited about this opportunity. Throughout my career, I have always accepted newer challenges and I’ll take this on as well,” Pereira expressed on the sidelines of the ongoing preparatory camp in Goa.

“Since starting my coaching career with Vasco in the second division, I have always grabbed the opportunities that have come my way. I feel that is God’s plan for me.”

Pereira, who was at the helm of Vasco Sports Club during 2000-05 before switching to Mahindra United Club, has taken up the charge of India U-23 National Team before the U-23 continental championship qualifiers which will be held in Tashkent in Uzbekistan.

Meanwhile, Pereira lauded the former coach Stephen Constantine’s philosophy of “building the team for future” too, “That’s the way we should follow to go one step up. Our youngsters are enough talented but they need proper exposure against tougher teams. There must be a long-term plan for the future.”

He added, “Even our senior team have gelled so well because they know each other well. They understand each other well. It takes time but we need to focus on that. We have to give them time and most importantly, believe in the players.”

Apart from Anirudh Thapa, who scored a sublime goal against Thailand, Vinit Rai and Sarthak Golui were also part of the 23-member squad that represented the country in AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019.

On being asked how valuable would be these players for this upcoming competition, the 56-year-old coach mentioned, “Experience always counts. Yes, they have been with the senior team for the considerable time and they would bring in the much-needed experience to guide the young boys.”

He, along with assistant coach Venkatesh Shanmugam are now focused to find the right combination as soon as possible so that they can start planning around the players before the qualifiers.

“We have to finalise the final squad out of the players available. Then, we would need to frame the starting XI as well as the replacements. We have to improve tactically as well as technically. Simultaneously, we would look to adapt to the style of football which will help us develop as a team as well as get the best possible result.”

India will travel to Tashkent to lock horns with Tajikistan and Uzbekistan in the Group F of the AFC U23 Championship qualifiers scheduled between March 22 and 24, 2019.

(AIFF Media)