GOA: All eyes will be on Indian Arrows – the developmental squad fielded by the All India Football Federation in the I-League 2017-18 as they take on Chennai City FC in the opening round of campaign at the GMC Bambolim Stadium in Goa on Wednesday.
The current Arrows squad is a mix of Under-17 Indian nationals who participated in the FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017 alongside Under-19 players who recently competed in the AFC U-19 Championship Qualifiers in Saudi Arabia.
“We are very excited with this possibility to play in the I-League. We know we are looking for such possibilities,” the Indian Arrows coach Luis Norton de Matos said in the pre-match press conference held today.
“These players are going to get more match experience. This is a starting point. The difficulty we see in the I-League will be similar to what we saw in the World Cup,” Matos said.
The idea behind fielding the young footballers in the I-League is to give them game time and Matos feels that this is good for the future.
Meanwhile, such a similar experiment was done between the 2010-2013 period which produced players like Jeje Lalpekhlua, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Holicharan Nazary etc.
Their opponents Chennai City FC are only into their second season in the I-League they would look better their 8th place finish from last season.
The Southern side are giving a platform for young footballers from Tamil Nadu to showcase their talent.
“We are concentrating more on Tamil Nadu players. That is why we have taken players from rural areas. We signed more players from the Chennai league. This year we had a very good pre-season and I have confidence in my players,” Chennai City coach V Soundararajan said.
Meanwhile, their captain Michael Soosairaj was cautiously optimistic.
“Actually we don’t underestimate anyone and everybody knows how they performed in the WC. We hope to be the better team,” the skipper said.
“We get to play 18 games which will give us a lot of experience,” Suresh Singh who played a pivotal role in the FIFA U17 World Cup and is part of the Indian Arrows team said.