Mumbai: Two back-to-back victories in the ongoing Intercontinental Cup seem to have made the Indian national football team more determined to “keep the ball rolling.”
“We have started off in an exquisite manner but now the challenge is to get the job done in the same fashion. The momentum needs to be sustained and we have to overcome New Zealand next, and then the final,” defender Subhashish Bose said.
India, who sit pretty on six points from two matches, will play against New Zealand in their next league of the tournament on Thursday at the Mumbai Football Arena.
Striker Balwant Singh, who has been a revelation in the national team since his return to the squad last year at the tri-nation tournament , was also aware about the “fresh challenge.”
“We have pulled off back-to-back wins but a fresh challenge lies ahead. We have to keep our head down and continue working. We are a confident bunch of lads and we hope we continue the job,” he maintains. Singh came off the bench the other night to lay it for Chhetri to score India’s third goal against Kenya in the last match.
Speaking during a practice session, winger Halicharan Narzary said, “Obviously we will be playing for a win against New Zealand, but it will not be easy. It will be remarkable if we win all of our three matches going ahead into the finals of the Cup and keep the winning momentum alive till the finals”
After two back-to-back victories, the team were involved in a recovery session at the pool and team meetings. The squad also went through a practice session at the Mumbai Football arena today evening.
“We are working as a unit and I, personally, feel confident to score more. As a striker, utilising opportunities and scoring goals is of paramount importance and I won’t compromise with that,” Balwant informed.
Subhashish said that the AFC Asian Cup would be a “huge platform” for the team.
“The AFC Asian Cup is going to be a huge platform for us where we have to be absolutely at the top of our game. This tournament has been going well so far and hopefully, we’ll leave Mumbai with some extra baggage,” he said.
Narzary added, “The Hero Intercontinental Cup is a very important tournament for us and before the AFC Asian Cup it will be a good platform to test ourselves against some of the teams of different playing styles of the elite level, that we don’t come across often”
Barely a veteran of two International matches, Subhashish was happy to having contributed for the team’s cause.
“It’s so satisfying to have played my heart out to help us register back-to-back clean-sheets. But it was the defence line led by Sandesh-bhai and Anas-bhai who made it possible. Not to forget that had not Gurpreet-paaji not pulled off those marvellous saves, clean-sheets wouldn’t have been possible at all,” he quipped.
Halicharan lauded skipper Sunil Chhetri as a motivation for every young football in the nation and said, “Sunil is an inspiration in himself and he has been a role model for every young player in India. It is a joyous moment for Indian football that a legend has played 100 matches and I wish he will play even more in the coming years”
“We wanted to give Sunil-bhai a gift on his 100th International Cap and that gift was qualifying to play in the final of the Hero Intercontinental Cup and defeat Kenya. Now we will take one match at a time and aim to win the Cup”, he added. (ANI)