Wednesday, February 28, 2024

‘Qatar win beginning of new era in Indian football’

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NEW DELHI: National football team coach Armando Colaco termed India’s 2-1 victory over Qatar in an international friendly as the beginning of a new era and said the country has shown that it can compete against the best in Asia.

Colaco said that the stunning victory was all the more satisfying as his charges beat Qatar in their own backyard at Al Sadd stadium.

“It may well be the beginning of a new era in Indian football because I see the self belief among the players that they can beat a top side in Asia. They were not concerned about the reputation of Qatar who are ranked much higher than us,” Colaco said from Doha.

“The win was a great achievement as we have beaten Qatar in Qatar. We have shown that we can compete against the best in Asia,” he said.

Colaco and his charges achieved what the country had not done for a long time. India had not beaten a top Asian side for many years. Qatar are ranked 94th in the world and ninth in Asia while India are at 147th in FIFA rankings.

Colaco said that younger players whom he called up at the expense of some seniors, who took part in the Asian Cup, should be given long lease in the side to achieve results.

“I see Indian football moving ahead and for that we need to keep faith in the younger players. They should form the core of the Indian side in the coming years,” he said.

Colaco took up the reigns barely two months before but he gave immediate results. He said the boys have quickly picked up his style of possession football.

“The whole team whether youngsters and seniors have gelled in well and in quick time. They have adjusted in the style of football I want to play. If you see the match the players showed they had faith in themselves and they were at ease with the possession football,” Colaco said.

The veteran coach and former India midfielder, however, warned his players not to let their guard down against United Arab Emirates in the double-leg World Cup qualifiers — at Al Ain on July 23 and in New Delhi on July 28.

“Qatar are a very good side and we are going to play another very good West Asian side. UAE are very strong team though I heard that a couple of key players may be missing due to injuries. We have to play our best football and maintain the belief in ourselves.

“The confidence level of the boys are high after beating Qatar. They had also played very well in the 1-1 draw against Maldives (in the first international friendly). We could have beaten Maldives as we had nine scoring chances in that match,” he said. (PTI)

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