Delhi: After a dismal performance despite a bright start, the All India Football Federation (AIFF) developmental team Indian Arrows, will look go bounce back when they take on fellow debutants Gokulam FC at the Ambedkar Stadium in Delhi on Friday.
For a team comprising of U-17 and U-19 stars and competing in a top-division national football league, not many expected them to have the start they had, decimating Chennai City 3-0 in their opening encounter. Things have however gone down-hill for the ‘Young Lions’ since then, with Arrows suffering two back-to-back defeats against Minerva to languish at the eight position with just three points from as many matches.
Coach Luis Norton de Matos however believes that not results but enjoying the game and learning from experience is their main objective in the debut season.
“The players need to learn from their experience in this league. Results can wait for the moment. I was really happy with how we played against Minerva Punjab in the last game and it was the individual brilliance of their striker Chencho (Gyeltshen) that proved to be the deciding factor,” said the Portugese tactician at the pre-match conference.
The prospect of fielding such a young team in the I-League was not seen in a good eye by many. But if any one is to go by the statistical performance of the young boys, the future is only of better things to come. Beginning their campaign in style with a win over Chennai City, the Arrows have scored three goals, while conceding the same number in equal number of matches.
Norton who was the first to present such a plan for the betterment of Indian football however is aware of the doubters and can’t wait to prove then wrong.
“When I proposed the idea of fielding the youngsters against experienced players in the I-League, many people were surprised. But, in Europe, it is a common practice and it is important for the 16-17 year olds to get as much match practice as possible. I think their experiences in the league this year will help them in developing their game and it will also to train them for the future,” added the Indian U-19 national coach.
Their opponents Gokulam have had a torrid time in the season so far. With just one draw and three defeats in the past four encoutners, pressure has already mounted up on Kerala’s latest addition to football. Coach Bino George is however not ready to give up and is optimistic of things soon changing for the ‘Men in Yellow.’
“Most of our players are inexperienced. We were a late addition to the I-League, and as a result, we can only take foreign players who are free agents. But we have taken lessons from the first three matches in the league and our aim is to finish in the top-four,” said George ahead of facing Arrows.