Tag: Intercontinental Cup 2018

Boys wanted to win it and we did it, says Chhetri

MUMBAI: Moments after India lifted the Intercontinental Cup courtesy a splendid Sunil Chhetri performance, Stephen Constantine, Head Coach, Indian National Team praised the team for their character on the field and touting the victory as a “win for Indian Football.”

“We really deserved to win this Cup and the players showed amazing character on the pitch in the final. This is a win for Indian Football. The work rate of the players was phenomenal and we showed how tough we are,” the coach said.

The Intercontinental Cup was memorable for skipper Sunil Chhetri as he not only earned his 100th International Cap and scored seven goals in four matches thus equalling Argentina’s Lionel Messi’s record of 64 goals in International Football.

“The boys wanted to win the tournament and we did it. It is a very important win for us and Indian Football in general,” Chhetri stated. “Kenya were trying to pressure us is in the second half but we showed phenomenal character to play as a team and thwart them away.”

The skipper meanwhile has already turned his eyes towards the AFC Asian Cup. “Everything we do is about the AFC Asian Cup. The AFC Asian Cup is what we are preparing for and this tournament helped us in our preparation for that,” Chhetri added.

“I am trying to play as an example and reciprocate to everyone, trying to encourage each other in our quest for the AFC Asian Cup.”

Intercontinental Cup 2018: Blue Tigers focusing on getting the job done

MUMBAI: Two back to back victories in the ongoing Intercontinental Cup seem to have made the Indian National 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 utters,

India who sit pretty on 6 points from 2 matches play New Zealand in their next league of the tournament tomorrow 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 also at the Mumbai Football Arena also stays aware 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 at a media interaction prior the team’s 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”

Post the two back to back victories, the team was involved in a recovery session at the pool and team meetings. The squad also went through a practice session at the Mumbai Football arena this 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 informs.

Subhashish feels the AFC Asian Cup will 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 smiles.

Narzary adds: “The 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 is 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 quips.

Halicharan lauded skipper Sunil Chhetri as a motivation for every young football in the nation and said, “Sunil bhai 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 Intercontinental Cup and defeat Kenya. Now we will take one match at a time and aim to win the Cup”, he further added.

AIFF Academy provides the supply line to national team: Pronoy

MUMBAI, JUNE 2, 2018: A day after Indian Coach Stephen Constantine described Pronoy Halder as a “destroyer,” Halder stressed that he needs to “stay grounded and not get carried away.”

Reflecting back on his wonderful strike against Chinese Taipei in the inaugural match of the Intercontinental Cup where he cut down the left and curled it past the diving rival goalkeeper into the far corner, Halder admitted he “wants to score more like this.”

“I’m very delighted to have scored a goal like that. But I need to be more consistent if I want to score more,” he told.

Sitting relaxed at the team hotel lobby, Halder, a former AIFF Academy graduate kept going back to his days at the AIFF Academy under his “mentor” Colm Joseph Toal, the man who shaped many a career in Indian Football.

“Earlier, I used to play a central defender. But Colm-Sir introduced me as a defensive midfielder. The days at the Academy made me confident and laid the track for me. The discipline which we gathered from Colm-Sir has helped me a lot,” he stated.

“At that time we all felt that maybe so much discipline was perhaps not needed. But we all adhered to it. Today looking back, I understand had he not steered us through the rough waters, we may have all been swept away,” Halder recollected. “He always used to remind us that he will always follow us playing Football. I am so proud to have being coached by him.”

Halder graduated out of the AIFF Academy in 2011 along with his batchmates including Pritam Kotal, Narayan Das, Halicharan Narzary, Brandon Fernandes, Sehnaj Singh, Bikramjit Singh (jr) amongst others.

“After Colm Sir, Stephen Constantine is the person who has taught me a lot. I try to execute the plans laid down by him. After coming back from an injury lay-off, the performance against Chinese Taipei was a relief for me,” he added.

The starting XI against Chinese Taipei had seven ex-AIFF Academy cadets playing at tandem as a five-star India ran away with the match to win 5-0.

Halder continued: “I feel the AIFF Academy has played a major role in supplying players to the National team and it must continue like this. The Academy grooms and creates the supply line which helps the player to fit in the National Team setup quite effortlessly.”

Anirudh Thapa, another AIFF Academy graduate who started alongside Halder seemed to be a befitting duo at the midfield to wreck the damage.

“We complemented each other well and helped to soak in the pressure from the defenders. Thapa played a fantastic role in opening up the rival defence from behind and tracking back to help the defenders. I hope this partnership will go from strength to strength in the coming matches.”

Looking ahead, Halder stressed that he is ready for the Kenyan challenge in the next match. “We are aware of their capabilities but will not let them go easily. We’re ready for the challenge and we hope to overcome them to step one step closer to the final.”

India face Kenya at the same venue on June 4, 2018, the kick-off of which is at 8 pm.

I haven’t reached the stature to inspire international players: Chhetri

MUMBAI: Even as Chinese Taipei coach Gary White feels that his “youngsters will look up to Sunil Chhetri someday,” the Indian National Team Captain felt he hasn’t yet attained the stature where International Footballers will “look up to him.”

“I feel I haven’t yet reached that stature where International Footballers will look up to me,” he smiled. “At this moment, I am more concerned about myself and my career. Maybe 20 years from now with me having retired, I may reflect back whether I have inspired someone or not. But right now, it’s too premature,” the man with 99 International caps sounded humble.

Sitting pretty at 59 goals in International Football, Chhetri on Friday, also became the first-ever Indian Footballer to have scored three hat-tricks in International Football surpassing Appalaraju and IM Vijayan, both of whom had two hat-tricks to their credit.

Speaking about his telepathy with fellow striker Jeje Lalpekhlua, Chhetri who has scored 15 goals in the 25 matches under Coach Stephen Constantine attributed it to the duo having “played together” for long.

“The understanding comes from the fact that we have played many games together. Jeje is a supremely talented player. He really works hard on his game and is one of our best players. I try my best to help him and vice versa,” Chhetri said in one breath. “Two of my goals today (against Chinese Taipei) came off Jeje’s pass. He is a very strong player who can hold defenders. My job becomes easier when he is around.”

There’s however, a sentiment that Chhetri doesn’t celebrate his goals as much as his fans would love him too. “I feel extremely happy when I score. I am very fortunate to have played and scored for teams, both at the International level and at the Club level. I value my goals very much,” he reflected.

“Right after the game Udanta (Singh) was in the ice-bath and I congratulated him for scoring his first-ever International goal. Yeah, I am very fond of him but I told him: ‘Congrats boy. But 58 more to go.”

I can’t take my place for granted – Gurpreet Singh Sandhu

MUMBAI: India’s numero uno Goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu lauded Dheeraj Singh for his stupendous display in the FIFA U17 World Cup. “I have high hopes from Dheeraj because he is a very good prospect who can do a lot for this country,” Sandhu, the first Indian to ever played in the UEFA Europa League stated.

“Being the first choice (goalkeeper) so far has been good for me. But I can’t take my place for granted. And whoever the next one is, I hope he is better than me,” Sandhu opined.

On being asked about India’s prospect in the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019, the custodian expressed: “We can’t be complacent and need to work hard. If we don’t put in our hard work, it will be difficult for us,” he mentioned. “We need to play at our best on those days. Otherwise, it won’t matter. Thailand, Bahrain are good teams and UAE being the home side will be a difficult side to deal with.”

Sandhu felt, Intercontinental Cup is a “good opportunity” for the team before the Continental championship and the team is ready to grab it.

“It is a very good platform for us to start building for AFC Asian Cup. We are lucky to have good opponents coming to India and giving us games. So we need to use it and make sure that we perform and learn from this experience. Make no mistake, New Zealand, Kenya and Chinese Taipei are tough teams.”

The 26-year-old Goalkeeper who made his International debut against Turkmenistan seven years back also added: “Chinese Taipei beat Bahrain recently and All Whites (New Zealand) need no introduction at all. Kenya have been a strong physical side and every team are going to give us different sort of problem.”