Nicolai: ‘We can be a tough opponent for European teams’

After the Indian U-16 team lost narrowly by a solitary goal against Russia in its opening match of the BRICS U-17 football tournament, www.the-aiff.com caught up with head coach Nicolai Adam and talked at length about India’s performance against Russia and India’s next opponent South Africa.

"I am pleasantly surprised that the overall picture shows we are competitive and can give some of the best teams in the world a hard time."   -  special arrangement

After the Indian U-16 team lost narrowly by a solitary goal against Russia in its opening match of the BRICS U-17 football tournament, www.the-aiff.com caught up with head coach Nicolai Adam and talked at length about India’s performance against Russia and India’s next opponent South Africa. Edited excerpts:

Question: What is your analysis of India’s match against Russia?

Answer: Russia is one of the countries which has the potential to qualify for the FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017 and we had to be realistic against them. We had hardly time to play and create clear goal scoring opportunities, but we were able to bring them at par with us in football terms.

We tried to kill Russia’s strength, their wingplay, in the second half and that worked for us. Although the team followed the tactical orders to perfection, and there were a lot of positives to take from the match, we still have to remember that we lost and still there is a lot of work to be done.

The Russian coach hailed India as stronger than Moldova, Latvia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

I hope nobody finds me arrogant but I agree with the Russian coach because we prepared well in Europe for our age group and I knew our level of competitiveness beforehand.

We have the calibre to play against some of the top reams of Europe like Russia, however this is still a work in progress, and we have to strive to become better in order to ensure our competitiveness in the FIFA World Cup next year.

I am pleasantly surprised that the overall picture shows we are competitive and can give some of the best teams in the world a hard time.

Did India deserve to lose against Russia?

We tried our best to score and we tried hard. I even made some attacking changes but credit to the Russian team for not allowing many clear goal scoring opportunities. At the end of the day, the result counts. It does not matter whether we deserved to win or lose.

What are your thoughts on India’s next opponents South Africa?

We have to digest the difference styles of football in this tournament. We have already played against the European style of play in Russia and now we look forward to see the African style of play.

We are not favourites to win the match as South Africa is physically and offensively better, and is stronger.