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AFC Asian Cup 2019: Former India midfielder NP Pradeep hopeful of progress from the group stage

2:50 pm AEST 3/6/18
NP Pradeep Gouramangi Moirangthem Bhaichung Bhutia Climax Lawrence India Nehru Cup 08262009
The midfielder, who was an integral part of the 2011 Asian Cup squad, believes the draw has presented India with a huge chance to progress...

Naduparambil Pappachen Pradeep or NP Pradeep is a well-known name in the Indian football fraternity. From a small town in Kerala, Pradeep played his way into the national team set up in 2005 and did just enough to earn a ticket when India packed their bags for the big AFC Asian Cup adventure in 2011.

Pradeep started in the heart of midfield in all three of India's group games in Qatar and despite a bitter end to the Asian campaign for the national team, seven years later, he has a few words of wisdom.

The player-turned-scout, who is currently working with the Reliance Foundation Young Champs (RFYC), believes the draw for the 2019 Asian Cup presents India with a big chance to progress into the next round.

"This draw has given India a huge chance to progress to the next round. I won't say it is easy but it is better than the group we got at the 2011 Asian Cup," said Pradeep.

Speaking about Stephen Constantine's team selections and chances given to youngsters, he added, "Criticisms against team selections will always be present. This time around, we expect a good outing. I think we can do well.

"The youngsters who were there at that time are the main players who are present in the squad this time around. Be it like Jeje Lalpekhlua or Narayan Das, they all came up through Indian Arrows project.

"The scouting has been good this time as well. Shanmugham Venkatesh is senior to me, he watches all the games and the scouting has been done properly," believes former Kerala Blasters scout NP Pradeep.

Pradeep was appointed as the scout of Kerala Blasters during their second season in ISL and the club is reaping benefits from the selections he made back in 2015.

"The emergence of Indian Super League has given the youngsters a huge platform. Now players like Sahal Abdul Samad can shine - he is a player with a high potential. 

"When I was the scout, I looked out for young players only. I had scouted Prasanth, Jishnu Balakrishnan, Sahal etc were among the 10-15 players (I scouted) but then they couldn't sign them up. They were only signed last season."