Nicolai Adam: 'Saudi Arabia are as strong as UAE'

A day prior to India’s second Group A League match against Saudi Arabia, Nicolai spoke at length about India’s preparation against Saudi Arabia, the art of defending, assessment of the Saudi team and much more.

India will face Saudi Arabia in its second match of AFC U-16 Championship on Sunday at Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Margao.   -  AIFF

The more you get to know him, the more you start admiring him. Despite losing his dad some 48 hours prior to India’s opener against UAE in the AFC U-16 Championship India 2016, Nicolai Adam, the tough German coach, wasn’t willing to let the world know about his personal loss. ‘Work is more important," he felt.

A day prior to India’s second Group A League match against Saudi Arabia, Nicolai spoke at length to www.the-aiff.com about India’s preparation against Saudi Arabia, the art of defending, assessment of the Saudi team and much more.

EXCERPTS:

How did the boys react after ‘experiencing the suffering?’

Their families are here in Goa. So we gave the boys a day off to spend time with their parents. It was necessary. It was perhaps the perfect way to them not remembering much about the previous match. Yes, there were some tears shed but as players, you cannot always think about football. It’s a new day and the boys are ready for the next challenge. It’s about striking the perfect balance between work and life.

How do you define Saudi Arabia as a team?

We watched them live at the stadium for some time and have watched our own footage as well. The second goal which Saudi Arabia scored against Iran can be just described in one word as ‘beautiful.’ It displayed the quality on their side. I see them as strong as UAE and it would be very difficult to beat them.

Looking forward, do you feel the need to concentrate more on your defending?

The art of defending states that you always defend as a team. We are all defenders when we don’t have the ball. But on occasions in our first match when UAE had the ball, we did not work together as a team. If you look back at the second goal which we conceded, we were more in numbers but lost it.

How much of an inspiration was that first half against the United Arab Emirates?

It was a joy for me to watch. It showed to all that we are on the right track. There was a certain style and identity which is now synonymous with the team. I would want the boys to play like as they did in the first half for the entire 90 minutes in the next match against Saudi Arabia; in fact, in all our matches from now on. The first half displayed the level which we can attain. The intention was to peak at the right time, i.e., at 7 pm on September 15, 2016. We achieved it but also lost it.

Did the momentum surprise you?

Not at all! We played quality matches every Wednesday and Saturday when we toured Europe and that was followed by game analysis. I wasn’t surprised at the quality displayed by my boys because I see that regularly.

What have been the lessons learnt?

The biggest lesson learnt is that no match is over till it is over. Things can change very quickly and you have to be ruthless all the time. The momentum needs to be maintained till the final whistle. Otherwise, you end up lamenting.

When did you receive the news of your dad passing away?

(Takes a deep breath). I got the news on the 13th morning. I wished to go back but I have commitments and won’t be able to be back in Germany until maybe the first week of November. My support staff in the team helped me cope up with the situation. On such days, you need people around you to stick together. It’s the family bonding that helps us sail through on such days.

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