New Delhi: India is set to get back into action for the first time in six months, as they gear up to face Tajikistan, in the build-up to the SAFF Championship, which is to be held in Nepal from 1st September.
Centre-back Gouramangi Moirangthem, in an interaction with the media, expressed his delight at the prospect of facing the much higher ranked Tajiks and stated, “I am looking forward to the game and am happy that the federation (AIFF) has arranged this friendly (to be played on August 14). Yes, they are ranked higher than us but we are going with a positive mindset and I hope something good will come out (of it).”
"We played against them in 2008 in the final of the AFC Challenge Cup which we won (4-1 in New Delhi). But we all know they are higher ranked than us. We are going to play in their home and it`s going to be very much difficult for us but we are looking forward to the challenge," the 27 year old defender added.
Having failed to make it to the main edition of the AFC Challenge Cup, the player seemed determined to do well in the SAFF Championship, and is focused on the mission ahead.
"This will certainly be helpful for preparing for the SAFF Cup in Kathmandu in September. It`s part of the preparations for SAFF as they (Tajiks) are ranked higher than us.”
Looking forward to the tournament in Nepal, Gouramangi warned against any complacency in the ranks of the defending champions. "In SAFF Cup all countries know us, we know them very well. We will take it one game at a time," he said.
However what cannot be denied is that a bad performance in the SAFF Championship would heap further pressure on the Indian national team coach Wim Koevermans. The former Churchill Brother defender though was effusive in his praise of the Dutchman, and commented,"He is an experienced coach and has brought in new information. He has been contributing a lot as coach. He has told us to not lose the ball so that the other team has to work hard to take it back."
The squad Koevermans has selected for the Tajikistan friendly, has only two players from the IMG-Reliance contracted players fold, which includes Gouramangi, as the former Netherlands International has left out those players who he feels are lacking in fitness, due to their pre-season starting late.
This fuelled the worries of those who thought that the rift between the I-League clubs and IMG-Reliance might come to haunt the national team.
The defender though, allayed any fears of the same happening, and was confident that the IPL styled tournament would bring a change for the good in the game, in India.
“People have thought, ‘what is going to happen’, but we’re hopeful that there’ll be a solution. Indian football is in transition and growing, and we have complete belief in IMG-R that they have made plans for the future. After all, they’re AIFF’s (All India Football Federation) official partners,” the 27 year old mentioned.
While the I-League clubs have ruled out taking any of the IMG-Reliance players on-board for their season, Gouramangi is relaxed about his situation, as he has been assured that a solution will be found for the same.
“Of course, we can’t sit out for the rest of the year, and even though I can’t mention the specifics, I’m sure that the IMG-R has thought about solutions. Overall though, I’m very impressed with the facilities and with the prospect of playing with international players and training under international coaches,” he concluded.