India’s Mehtab Hussain: We can defend SAFF title if we play to our abilities

The elegant playmaker of the Red and Gold also congratulated the U-16 players of the SAFF Cup winning team...

Mehtab Hussain exuberated confidence after the SAFF Championship draw which saw India grouped alongside Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan in cluster A.

India won the SAFF Championship title in 2011 at Delhi where they thrashed Afghanistan 4-0 in the final.

“We have Nepal, Pakistan and Bangladesh in our group. All of them areformidable sides and are close to us in the FIFA rankings. However, I feel that we have a good chance in the tournament if we can play as per our ability,” he told when Goal asked him about the draw.

He also congratulated the young lads who won the U-16 SAFF Cup only days back.

"They have made the country proud. It’s a big achievement in such young an age. Now we should have a proper youth football structure and facilities so that these young boys get to play for the age-group sides of the big clubs in the near future. We have to build up a system like they have in the big clubs like Manchester United,” the experienced campaigner opined.

Talking of his new coach Marcos Falopa at East Bengal, he remarked that the veteran from Brazil should be given time before his performances are placed under the scanner.

“He has a different personality than Trevor Morgan. Every coach has his own style. He must be given some time to settle down. And speaking of Americo (fitness trainer), he knows a lot of things. He has introduced new kinds of physical exercises in the practice. Now it remains to be seen how we perform in the competitive matches.”

East Bengal faces Semen Pedang FC of Indonesia on 17th September in the AFC Cup quarter finals. Mehtab hopes that his side will have enough outings before they face the Indonesian side.

“We need to concentrate on the team-game. I hope that we will get a couple of Kolkata league matches, which will certainly bolster our preparation,” he signed off.


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