Kathmandu: Indian football captain Sunil Chhetri on Tuesday warned his players against complacency if they have to defend the AFC Challenge Cup which begins here on March 8.
Chhetri, who had recently recovered from an injury, said that his side cannot bask on the past record and will have to play their best to win the tournament whose winner qualify for the 2015 Asian Cup.
"You can never bask on past laurels. We have been drawn in the `Group of Death` and can`t afford to take any of the teams lightly. Every match is a new match and we need to take one match at a time. We need to play as a cohesive unit against Tajikistan," he said.
Coach Savio Medeira has been in charge of a new-look team without some of the stalwarts of Indian football and Chhetri said the younger lot are settling down with the team.
"The Camp (in Dubai) was very useful indeed. It helped all of us -- be it juniors or seniors. Now we have a clear idea as to what the coach wants. The juniors are slowly settling down and picking up the technical aspects, which one needs to possess to play at the highest level," said Chhetri.
Chhetri, who scored a hat-trick to help India win the 2008 edition of the AFC Challenge Cup, said he was honoured to be leading the side in such an important tournament.
"It`s an honour and a huge responsibility at the same time. The captain`s armband makes me feel privileged. Obviously I stay the same person as before. And it`s not only me but all the senior players are always there to guide the younger lot.
"The team is passing through a transitional phase. The senior players who used to act as our mentors have retired. Bhaichung Bhutia, Rennedy Singh, Deepak Mondal went out of their way to help the juniors. We need to carry on the legacy for the benefit of Indian football," he said.
India begin their Group B campaign against Tajikistan on March 9 before taking on Philippines on March 11 and North Korea on March 13.