AFC Asian Cup 2019: Mahesh Gawli - India rely on collective effort

Mango Peel
The veteran defender feels that the current India side have a better chance of progressing into the knockout stages...

Mahesh Gawli is remembered for his heroics in the 2007 Nehru Cup final against Syria in national colours.

Although N P pradeep scored the winning goal, Gawli was adjudged the man of the match for his resolute defending against a much higher-ranked Syrian side which also had former East Bengal midfielder Mahmoud Al-Amna.

The Goan defender was also part of Bob Houghton's setup in 2011 and travelled with the team to Doha to take part in the Asian Cup. Although India had to return empty-handed on that occasion, Gawli feels that the present squad has what it takes to surpass them.

"India have a better chance this time around. We played a friendly against China and the boys put in a fantastic performance. If we perform the same way as we did against China, we can possibly reach the quarter-finals.

"In 2011, it was difficult for us. We had prepared very well but there were tougher opponents like Australia and South Korea. But India has improved a lot since then. Yes, we gave our best in 2011 and this time also the players are very dedicated. They will give their all," the former India international defender told Goal. 

India Oman Asian Cup

The former Dempo SC stalwart believes that India will taste success as they rely on the collective effort rather on a few individuals.

"Whoever is playing for the country are all good players. I have full confidence in the defenders and goalkeepers. All are reliable players. All players in the Indian team are marquee for me. It will be a collective effort of the team," said Gawli.

India will start their AFC Asian Cup campaign against Thailand on January 6 at the Al Nahyan stadium in Abu Dhabi.

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