Defending SAFF title won`t be easy: Indian football coach

New Delhi: Indian football coach Savio Medeira was neither confidence personified nor short on hope on the eve of the SAFF Championship but said failing to defend the title would not be a letdown as the team did not get "enough time to prepare".

"No, I don`t think so. We could not prepare well enough," the Goan said when asked if anything less than defending the title would be a disappointment.

"But I don`t think we cannot win the tournament. We can, the boys are giving their best. It will depend a lot on the given day, the opposition. If we don`t perform on the given day, I don`t think it`s going to be easy," Medeira said.

Strange it may sound but Medeira felt the 0-5 drubbing to Zambia in an international friendly recently will only make the team more competitive in the SAFF tournament, starting at the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium here from tomorrow.

Medeira though gave enough indications that the match was not the best thing to have happened ahead of the tournament.

"The fixture was drawn much before I joined the team," Medeira said when asked if playing Zambia, ranked 79th in the world to India`s 162, was a mistake ahead of the regional tournament.

Talking about the positives the team derived from the match played in Margao, he said it has helped the players to work on their technical abilities.

"I think it will help the boys compete better in the tournament."

Medeira`s tenure at the helm kicked off on a good note as the team drew one and won one in friendlies against Malaysia before the clash against Zambia.

"We had a good start against Malaysia but against Zambia there was vast difference," he said.

The Goan felt the team would have been better off had they entered the tournament on a winning note instead of a big defeat.

"A coach always hopes that something nice happens before entering a tournament, entering on a positive note," he said.

He said the absence of star strikers Sunil Chhetri and Jeje Lalpekhlua from training would not affect the team much.

Both were away on trials with Scottish Premier League giants Rangers, and are expected to join the team later tonight.

"They have played a lot with the team. Both Chhetri and Jeje have good understanding between them."

But he reiterated that sending scouts to India would have been much better.

"It`s always difficult there - the climate is so cold there. Instead they could have send scouts to India – the match against Zambia was a good opportumity, and there is the SAFF Cup also," Medeira said.

Asked about the transition since Bob Houghton left the team, Medeira, who had assited the Briton in the past, said, "Some players who were there in the team during Bob`s time are not there now. It`s a mixture of youth and experience."

Skipper Climax Lawrence felt former star Bhaichung Bhutia is still missed but praised Chhetri and Jeje for their performance.

"We miss Bhaichung but we have two very good strikers who are doing very well," Lawrence said.


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