Wim Koevermans: Our attitude against Nepal was completely different

The Indian national coach believes that Chhetri’s performance stood out the most, while also praising his team on a job well done against a not so weak opposition

Wim Koevermans has expressed joy at his team’s achievement of defeating Nepal by a scoreline of 2-0.

He singled out Sunil Chhetri for his excellent performance while congratulating the striker on becoming India’s all-time leading scorer.   

Koevermans started his address by taking time to acknowledge the effort put in Chhetri to break the Indian record for most goals scored. “Firstly, I’d like to announce a round of applause for our record holder Sunil. It’s an historical moment.”

Asked his opinions on the game, Koevermans elucidated, “In brief, I am very happy with the performance. We saw an outstanding team today. From the first minute, we were very aggressive and dominated the game.  We were dominant in both ways, attacking and defending and we created lots of chances. I was pleased when we scored the goal. I was happy that Sunil got the all-important goal as it helped settle the team down. We created lots of chances further on too. Finally, we scored that second goal when we could have scored three, four or five goals. But let’s not be critical about that. I am happy with the result and was happy and especially with the way the team played. I saw some excellent players on the field today.

“Also, I’m ecstatic we finished off the year on a high with a very good win over a very good team in Nepal. No doubt they have some great players who can create promise for you. However, we were on top of them for ninety plus minutes and I’m very happy with that.”

On being asked as to what was different from the team’s display against Nepal at the SAFF Championship where they lost 2-1, Koevermans said, “That was not one of our best games, but it can happen when you play a series of games. We played brilliantly in the semi-final and the final of the SAFF. Yet we could’ve won that game. Yet as a coach you know that when you create so many chances you know there will come a time when you score. That happened today and we also scored against the Philippines.

“We scored today too after creating lots of chances. So I’m happy with that the performance today was really, really good. It was against a strong side and I’m pleased with Sunil that he scored his record goal in front of the home crowd. It’s a big thing to beat Bhaichung’s record so I’m pleased.”

Koevermans refused to acknowledge that the Blue Tigers were determined to avenge their defeat against the Gorkhalis.

“We were looking for a good game. Revenge is a term in sport life. ‘They beat us over there, let’s beat them in front of our fans’. And that’s what we did. We did it with a super performance. We always do a lot of work in training like Sunil said earlier. The players look back at what we did in training and today, it was a very good performance.”

Qusestioned if team's tempo and style of expression have changed and thus have subsequently raised the bar for performances in the future, Koervermans said, “You know, when you have to change things viz. style of play, then it takes time. Every game we’ve played, as I’ve said it suits players and they can play really good football as they have shown me in many, many games. The results may not have gone our way, but that gives a negative perspective. That’s not the way I look at it. We have to be very positive. We brought quite a few players to the national team and we had another debut by Victorino (Fernandes) and (Aibor) Khongjee along with Narayan (Das). So I’m really happy with that.”

India kept a clean-sheet and the Dutchman heaped praise on his players for their combined effort at stopping Nepal from creating many chances.

“Defending is what you do as a team. You start with Robin (Singh) and Sunil upfront. They already put a lot of work in and as a result it becomes easier for the rest. All in all the whole team defended well in midfield. Mehtab is always a key factor in that. Lalrindika (Ralte) did really well. We saw an outstanding centre-half in Arnab as well. So when you count all of that together, that was a solid team in defending. Plus Karanjit (Singh) was good in collecting the balls although he had nothing much to do thanks in part to the defenders,” was the coach’s reply to what he thought of his team’s defending throughout the match.

Clifford Miranda put in a top performance and Koevermans was pleased with the display of the Dempo SC skipper.

“Yes, of course. He’s always been a player who scores goals and I’m always happy for anyone who scores a lot of goals. “

In a moment of light-hearted humour, Koevermans was asked why he believed he felt his side had four or five goals in them when they had scored only two, to which Chhetri put his hand up and apologised for missing chances. The Indian coach sensing the funny side of it explained, “That happens sometimes. Some strikers need to play every week to get that feeling.  That’s also important. But you also need to create some great chances. There were some great chances, some great attacks. You don’t finish every ball though and I must say the goalkeeper of Nepal (Kiran Chemzong) made some fabulous saves. We have to take that into consideration as well.”

Finally, begged an explanation on what he thought Nepal lacked from a side that beat the home team at the SAFF championships, Koevermans concluded, “It’s very difficult to say. I still think they’re a good team but our attitude was completely different today. When they play at home, I think they were nearly forty thousand people who made twice as much of noise as they made today. That lifted the team, and I think we were impressed there but today, it was all the way around. I think it’s difficult to compare games as home games give the crowd advantage and that was definitely the case with Nepal.”

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