Mumbai, May 16 (IANS) Indian football players should embrace the challenge of facing tougher competition from some English clubs in the Reliance Foundation presents Premier League Next Generation Cup, coaches of the UK clubs that will participate in the event collectively said on Tuesday.
The visiting squads of Wolverhampton Wanderers FC, West Ham United FC and Everton went through their first training sessions since landing in India on Tuesday.
The tournament kicks off on Wednesday at the Reliance Corporate Park (RCP) in Mumbai with the Wolves and Everton taking on each other and West Ham United locking horns with RFDL third-place occupants ATK Mohun Bagan.
“Embrace the opportunity. It’s a fantastic event. It’s a great opportunity for them to test themselves against some of the best teams in England. Wolves and West Ham alongside us – three really prestigious academies back in the United Kingdom (UK),” Everton coach Kieran Driscoll conveyed in his message to the four Indian clubs that have qualified for the tournament.
West Ham United coach Lauris Coggin asked the Indian players to keep their calm and be in the moment. He suggested they put in a cohesive and collective effort in addition to taking their time early on in the game to assess the opposition and conditions that they come across.
“Take your time. First five minutes, understand what the opponent is going to offer, the pitch, the weather, and the platform. Take as much information as you can in the initial moments; help each other in the difficult moments and try to slow the game down,” Coggin quipped.
Many Indian players harbour hopes of playing abroad, particularly in Europe, as they rise through the ranks here.
ATK Mohun Bagan’s star forward, Kiyan Nassiri, seconded this notion during one of his interactions with the media during the Reliance Foundation Development League (RFDL).
“Of course, 100 per cent, I see myself playing abroad. Everyone wants to play first for the national team and then possibly go to play (for an international club),” Nassiri had mentioned.
Wolves coach James Collins agreed with the same. He believes that it is extremely difficult for clubs across the world to get a hang of their counterparts at the junior level unless they play against them in some competition. The Reliance Foundation presents Premier League Next Generation Cup, which he believes, will enable the Indian players to get a first-hand experience of the standards they need to uphold to secure lucrative opportunities of playing in Europe.
“I think what it does for the Indian players is it gives them an idea of the standard (of football in Europe). It’s very difficult to know what a U-18, U-19 or U-20 player looks like in England if you have not played against them or seen them. It’s very similar in India. We don’t know until we play against them. I think one should know what you are competing with as it gives you a fighting chance of getting yourself to the standard required,” Collins claimed.
“If you don’t know, it’s more difficult. So, hopefully, competitions like these will give the next generation of Indian talent a good idea of where they stand in order of getting there and hopefully one or two of them will,” Collins signed off.