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The India coach acknowledged that his side will be the ‘one to beat’ for the rest of the competitors…

The SAFF Championship kicks-off tomorrow, with India hoping to win a hat-trick of successive titles for the first time ever. With other South Asian teams showing decent form in the build-up to the competition, it is going to be tough for the Blue Tigers to succeed in their mission.

The national team coach, Wim Koevermans, accepted the challenge, and while acknowledging that the pressure is on his team, expressed his determination to go away with the trophy again. He stated, “Yes, the pressure is always on team that owns the cup and we are here to defend the title and we want to win it, and that’s our aim.”

While predictions are already being made on who will be the easier teams to beat in the competition, the Dutchman is wary of taking anyone lightly, and explained, “We are here to defend title so every game is a final, all 5 are important to us, and we have to do our bit to win all the matches.”

The Indian head coach also felt that a 20 day national camp was optimum preparation for the competition, and commented. “Players had just begun pre-season and it’s similar to last year and I think we are ready to start the tourney. It certainly didn’t hamper our plans.”

Adding further spice to India’s second group stage game against Bangladesh is the fact that their head coach Lodewijk De Kruif is a close friend of Koevermans, and had learnt several tricks of the trade from him.

The Indian coach though was quick to point out that it is a clash of two teams, and has nothing to do with the two coaches. He mentioned, “We have spoken to each other and it’s nice (to have him here) but it’s not about him and me, it’s about India and Bangladesh. We see every team as a strong opposition and we don’t underestimate any team. We are the team to beat, that’s extra pressure for us but we are ready for it.”

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