Sajid Dar: 'Need to make our sacrifices count'

A day prior to India’s opening match at the AFC U-19 Championship 2017 qualifiers against Iran, head Coach Sajid Dar spoke about the ‘tough’ opponents, the philosophy, India’s chances and much more.

The India U-19 team before a training session in Hanoi.   -  AIFF

Keeping an eye on the future, the Indian U-19 women’s team has quite a few girls from the recently concluded AFC U-16 Championship. A day prior to India’s opening match at the AFC U-19 Championship 2017 qualifiers against Iran, head Coach Sajid Dar spoke about the expectations, the ‘tough’ opponents, the philosophy, India’s chances, a look back at the 30-day camp and much more.



Excerpts

What are your expectations from the championship?

The girls want to give their best. We are playing against tougher opponents and honestly we just can’t blindly say that we will beat them. We are aware of our limitations but we will be playing to our strengths. We look forward to display some good brand of football against tougher teams.



But what do you expect from your ‘tough opponents?’

We have not seen them play as much as they haven’t seen us play. So it’s hard to predict. But given the pedigree of the teams whom we will play, I can say they will be coming out all guns blazing. They may be stronger than us but no team in this world is unbeatable. We need to have the self-belief to compete against good teams. We are taking one match at a time and right at this moment we are thinking solely about Iran and hope to get a good result against them.



You have working with this bunch of 17-year-olds who have been away from their families for long. What exactly goes on in their mind?

We have always tried to create a friendly atmosphere in the camp. The girls did not feel homesick for the last month or so and that in itself is a big motivation for us that we have done our job well. Certainly it’s tough on their part. We flew from Delhi on the night of the Diwali and I’m sure that given a choice they may have wanted to be at home. But that’s what international football is all about. It’s about your sacrifice. They need to make it count.



You have two days to settle down in Hanoi prior to your first match. What exactly did you stress on?

The first day just whisked past and we used as a recovery session. It was an overnight flight from Delhi and the girls have to adjust fast into the new time zone. The second day will be our main session in Hanoi prior to our first match and we will be having meetings with players and discussing about the strategies which we would be employing. There’ absolutely no time to relax and we need to stay focussed right from the time we landed to those 90 minutes in the two respective matches.



You proceeded to Hanoi after a month-long camp. What did you do in the camp?

The primary objective was to improve on our fitness levels. Thereafter, as per our philosophy we started working on the areas. The intent is to play attacking football and not give away easy chances to our opponents.



Was 30 days enough?

Not really! Apart from the girls from Manipur, we had to begin from scratch with all the rest. They had proceeded to the camp without doing any footballing work prior to joining the camp. So we had to spend extra days to get back all in shape and attain the fitness levels. We played some practice matches against local boys' teams.



How did the girls respond in the practice matches?

The commitment on display was exemplary. As we would be playing Iran and Vietnam, both tough opponents, we wanted the girls to play against a physically superior batch. So we organised practice matches against the U-19 boys team from Ahmedabad. The experience will help us a lot as we move forward.



What’s the composition of the squad like?

We have five girls from the last batch who played AFC U-19 Championship in Jordan two years back. We have also roped in some U-16 girls who played the AFC U-16 Championship a couple of months ago in China. It’s all with an eye on the future.

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