I-League Qualifiers: Goalkeeper Barai confident of Garhwal's chances

Delhi-based Garhwal FC will begin its I-League Qualifiers campaign against Kolkata giant Mohammedan SC on October 8, at the Kalyani Stadium.

"We are still working towards match-level sharpness but the extra work being put in by the coaches is making it easier for us," Sayak Barai said.   -  AIFF Media

The 2020-21 footballing season gets underway with the Hero I-League Qualifiers 2020 as five teams – ARA FC, Bhawanipore FC, FC Bengaluru United, Garhwal FC and Mohammedan SC – get set to battle it out for the coveted direct entry in the Hero I-League 2020-21.

Delhi-based Garhwal FC will begin its campaign against Kolkata giant Mohammedan SC on October 8, at the Kalyani Stadium and a key figure for it will be 23-year-old goalkeeper Sayak Barai, who is confident of his team's chances for the I-League qualification.

He told www.i-league.org, “All five teams want to qualify for the Hero I-League. Many might be considering us to be the underdogs but I don’t think it is correct. I am very confident about our team’s qualification chances as we are a strong unit. Other teams may have star names that draw focus but we are ready to spring a surprise.

“All the players in the side support one another. We are one team — unity is important for every team and our team’s unity is one of our biggest assets. We are growing and improving as a team continuously,” he added.

I-League Qualifiers - Full list of fixtures  

The side from Delhi stood atop Group A in the 2019-20 Hero 2nd Division League with 14 points in seven matches thanks to a brilliant run of form. Barai stated that while the players are still working towards reaching “match-level sharpness”, they are in good shape due to extra efforts being put in by the coaches.

He explained, “When we resumed training after lockdown, we were in good shape because of the plans given by the coaches. We assembled for a camp in Delhi and would train daily according to the match times.

“We are still working towards match-level sharpness but the extra work being put in by the coaches is making it easier for us. We were all very active even in lockdown and the Delhi camp was very intense so as to make us ready for the matches.”

I-League Qualifiers to begin on October 8  

The team is currently in quarantine in the bio-secure bubble after arriving in Kolkata on September 25 as it plans to resume training very soon. Though it is frustrating for Baraj to stay inside closed doors, he understands that it for the players' welfare.

“Being in quarantine can be a little frustrating, as an athlete, but of course, the safety of the players is first and foremost. The AIFF has laid down a strict protocol to create a safe environment for us, which is important not only for the team but also for a player’s career,” the goalkeeper said.

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