Goa: In a proverbial David versus Goliath match-up at the Tilak Maidan in Goa, All India Football Federation’s (AIFF) developmental side Indian Arrows will go up against mighty Gokulam Kerala in game#7 of the 13th Hero I-League season.
The side from Kerala is much improved from the one which was stunned by the Arrows, albeit a different outfit, exactly a year ago in the 12th Hero I-League league’s edition. The combination of Trinidadian Marcus Joseph and Ugandan Henry Kisseka is gelling well for them through the start of the season and as was evidenced in their opening game win against Manipur’s Neroca FC at home.
Coach Fernando Valera sounded cautiously optimistic ahead of the game saying, “Our triumph at home gives us confidence but we must be respectful to the rivals and we know that Indian Arrows is a very intense team.”
On plans for the game, he added, “we need to maintain concentration, be dynamic and try to control the game.”
The Indian Arrows, on the other hand, have a new coach in Shanmugam Venkatesh and plucky youngsters like Ashish Mishra, Ajin Tom and Vikram Partap Singh and it remains to be seen whether they have settled down as a unit early in the season.
They are no longer all of the U-17 variety with players now having had international U-19 experience as well.
Coach Venkatesh, however, was guarded in his assessment ahead of the Arrows’ opener saying, “We are a new team and are here to produce the future of Indian football. I would like to thank the AIFF for the opportunity. It’s a big challenge and I am very excited and confident and looking forward to working with this set of boys.”
“They are not at the same age level as the senior professionals and physically, it will be a difficult match for them. However, we have our own strengths. Stamina and technical ability-wise we are good and we will keep working on them.”