Wim Koevermans remarked that his side are determined to put up a commendable display against Philippines and Nepal in the twin international friendlies lined up. On Friday, they face the Azkals who are the highest ranked nation in the South East Asian region.
"I always say, every time we go into a game, we play to win. There's no difference in these two games. Every coach should have that when you go into a game - try to win," he said.
The gaffer however reiterated that the Blue Tigers were the best outfit in the SAFF Championship that took place earlier this year, but were unlucky not to win the silverware.
"I think we did our best in the SAFF Cup. We got to the finals. I still got the impression that it was a disaster. We played the final and we were the best team, and didn't win. So, from that perspective, I was really positive at the end of the tournament. We didn't win the cup, but we should have," he remarked.
The coach also tried to look at the positive side of not having IMG-Reliance players in the squad and also seemed happy with the short preparation.
"For the national team, we only had a couple of days to prepare ourselves. It was a difficult start because the situation of the IMG-Reliance players' situation hasn't changed. So it's still the same, but on the other hand, it gives us the opportunity to bring more (new) players to the international front. We had our preparation in the past week. So far I'm very happy with the way things have worked. So I'm looking forward to see how the players will respond to these international friendlies," he mentioned.
Koevermans didn't sound very concerned about the inexperience of the defense line at his disposal in the absence of regulars like Gouramangi Moirangthem and Syed Nabi.
"The players that we have, there's quite a lot of experience around. That's always a mistake - that people think that you can change anybody in the team, because they think they are better. But that's not the way it works. You have to be careful. Just to bring in 18 new players, that's not going to do it," he stressed.
He however pointed out that the tempo of the match against Philippines will be much higher than the ones fans are used to in the I-League.
"International football is completely different, especially compared to our own I-League. The tempo is completely different. They want to play, that's why they are in the team. In the training session - that's what I find out. First training session they are with the national team and everything is much faster and much quicker. That's also a demand from me because that's the way international football is being played.
“If you watch the Philippines play UAE, so you see how UAE play and how quick they are. That's huge. Even the Philippines themselves. This is not the tempo that you see in the I-League. So it's different. The situation is different, but we have still enough experience in the team if you look at the players. We brought a few young players in. It’s a great opportunity to see how they cope," he opined.
The Dutchman, in fact seemed convinced about the inclusion of a number of uncapped players in the squad.
"We brought new players. Sometimes they're young, sometimes they're not. So it's not that I'm only focusing on young players. I see a lot of talent in India and unfortunately, a lot of these talented players don't get the opportunity because we have a lot of foreign players. I can only choose from players who are born in India and I still think that there's a lot of talent around.
“So I'm not only focusing on young players. I'm looking for talented players that can play at international level. And we can only find out if they really are up to the standards if I let them play, otherwise it's very difficult to know. The shape of the team is perfect. Everybody is fine," he informed.
Gouramangi Moirangthem and Subrata Paul went for a trial at Denmark’s FC Vestsjælland while Godwin Franco and Nirmal Chettri are having a similar stint at Germany’s Fortuna Dusseldorf. Koevermans acknowledged the fact that these experiences are good to know about a completely different football culture, but the I-League should be given the top priority.
"I think, first of all we should look at our own I-League. That, for me, is number one. We should improve it much better than we have at the moment. It's ongoing. On the other hand, if players can have the opportunity to play abroad, that will give them a great experience because the football is completely different than we have in India.
“Sunil (Chhetri) knows all about it. He has been to Portugal. Other players have had their trials, but it's only trials. You're there for one or two weeks. The experience is of a completely different football culture. Although that is something, but to really learn something, you have to go and play a competition. That always gives something extra to players. That's for sure.”
The coach also remarked that friendly matches are a great stage to give new players a chance to be part of the action.
"If teams want to win the game, it's going to be a high intensity game. So if you say don't play the friendly matches and only go for competitions, we lose a lot of opportunities to give the players the experience. If I get the opportunity to play young players and I think that it's the right moment, I will do that," he signed off.
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