India started their AFC Challenge Cup qualifiers campaign with a 2-1 win over the Chinese Taipei. Wim Koevermans, the coach of the Indian National football team was happy with the team’s display.
“We deserved to win this game, with the kind of the share of possession that we had. Certainly there was a threat of counter attack from the Chinese Taipei side in the first half, that’s one of their strengths. I must say that the boys defended quite well. We got a good first goal inside the first 45 minutes.
"I think that we should have gone 2-0 up before the break. So my message to the boys (at half-time) was, that we should not lose this game. If we could take a 2-0 lead, we could have sealed it in our favour. But I was very surprised to see the team concede a goal from the set-piece. Then it became a fight against the clock. I am happy, we won at last," Koevermans told.
The Dutch coach was full of praises for his substitutes and in particular spoke about Robin Singh who eventually scored the winner at the death.
“I am not happy with the way they equalized. It was a very easy chance. I would expect that these things don’t happen again. However, Robin Singh and Syed Rahim Nabi played well after coming on as substitutes. I knew that Robin has a tall physique and he is strong in the air. He headed the ball from Nabi’s cross to provide us with the winner. It was very important to start with three points.”
The coach denied to tag the victory as a lucky one, and stressed on the number of chances created by the team. He mentioned that the opponent goalkeeper was tested many a time and the percentage of possession reflects their dominance.
Koevermans also remarked that he is thinking about one match at a time. “Our next opponent is Guam. For the time being, we are concentrating on that match. If we can win it, we will have 6 points from the first two matches. Then we will be in a good position for the last match against Myanmar. We are here to fetch as many points as possible.”
The Indian national team coach also opined that training in Pune before the start of the tournament had its advantages.
He explained, “The weather here is very similar to Pune. The boys looked well prepared for the challenge. Also, we didn’t know much about the Chinese Taipei. We had seen some clippings and knew only 6 to 7 players. I am happy we have won it.”
India will next face Guam on Monday in the second match of the qualifiers.
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