New Delhi: Mahesh Gawli was one of the few senior players who escaped coach Armando Colaco`s axe but the veteran defender feels that infusing young blood was the right way to go in the current scenario of Indian football.
More than a dozen senior players, including former captain Bhaichung Bhutia who were in Asian Cup squad, were omitted from the national camp for 2014 World Cup qualifiers against United Arab Emirates next month and Gawli is the most experienced among the probables.
"It was not my call but picking youngsters is a step in the right direction. I feel there is a lot of young talent in the country and those youngsters in the camp have the capability to take Indian football forward," Gawli said on the fourth day of the camp at Ambedkar Stadium.
"But please don`t put pressure on them by expecting a lot. Don`t expect them to play just like the senior players. We have to realise that the boots they are filling are quite big and they will need time to adapt," added the veteran defender.
He said it was the duty of the senior players to help out the youngsters and he is ready to play his part in doing that. "I have always believed that having represented the country for more than a decade now and it is my duty to welcome and make comfortable any junior who walks into the team.
"I have always been there whenever anyone has needed any help. I don`t believe in the junior and senior divide. Even I was a junior when I first came into the squad. But now when I have been associated with the team for so long, it is my job to help the youngsters adapt to the set-up," he said.
Gawli also said that India can put up an impressive show against UAE in the World Cup qualifiers despite losing heavily recently.
"I was part of the Indian team which defeated UAE in Bangalore in 2001 (in 2002 World Cup qualifier under Sukhwinder Singh). We lost to them (0-5) just before the Asian Cup but I think we can play well against them this time," he said.
India play UAE in Dubai on July 28 in the first leg before taking on the same opponents in the return leg on July 28.