Istavan Urbanyi is no stranger to the South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) Championships. He’s been the coach of the Maldives during their last 2 campaigns of the tournament. However, he hasn’t had the resources available to tackle the behemoths in the competition. Now, in his third shot at the trophy he believes he may have the right formula to crack the SAFF code.
In a recently concluded pre-match press conference, the Maldivian national coach laid bare his team’s ambitions and goals and most importantly, what he thinks of his opposition.
With respect to how he plans on tackling the tough nuts in the competition and his own team’s likelihood to win Urbanyi confided, “The expectation is always highest, especially from the fans. We have a good team, but nobody can say that they have the strongest team. Small details will make a difference. We are ready to fight. Our target is to take back the trophy to make fans happy.”
Asked about how many players he had taken efforts to retain from New Radiant who reached the Asian Football Confederations (AFC) Cup quaterfinals, Urbanyi stated, “I had these players before they reached quarter-final which is historical. This is going to be a very important tournament for all of us. They have never had such a busy season before so I can’t say how they will perform this time.”
When questioned if being the manager for 3 straight SAFF Championship can help him gain advantage over rivals, he replied, "I don’t think I can give an interesting answer. Definitely I have good knowledge of the competition and most of the opponents, but the main thing is I have knowledge of my players and players have confidence in me. We are here to achieve something that we have never done before. This is the third time so imagine which result will make me happy."
He was a lot more conservative when asked about the group his team were drawn into where they are along side Sri Lanka, Bhutan and Afghanistan. Explaining his stance, Urbanyi said, “Definitely if we talk about the groups, it is very good to be in this group. But everyone wants to win the SAFF Championship.”
Shedding light on his own team and their expected performances, Urbanyi said, “If you talk about chances, it always very interesting given that there are so many details to check. Compared to 2009, 90% of teams have changed. We have a new generation here and for them it is a new tournament. Based on the expectations from our supporters, we all want to win and we will see if this will be the one.”
On the popular notion that the Afghanistan match would probably end up being a scrap for the top two berth in the group, he opined, “No need to talk about options. The first two games we must win, and last game is probably a fight to which position who will qualify, but its better to focus on each game.”
Calling the 2013 edition of the competition as the most competitive SAFF he’s been part of, the coach said, “I can say this is most competitive, but we will know only at the end of the tournament. I wish all the teams the best.”
Ibrahim Amir resigned from his position as team manager just a few days back and Urbanyi chose not to dwell on it.
“He (Ibrahim) is not here as he has resigned. We are focused on the tournament. It was his personal decision, we have a new manager, and he is supporting us.
“The head coach is responsible for making selections and my selections have full support of association. He has great knowledge on how to support the team and give good background to players and coach as well,” were his concluding thoughts on Amir.
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