Connect with us
Photo: ANFA Media

National Roundup

Coach Biby: “We have what it takes to be SAFF Champions”

Ahead of the summit clash with arch-rivals Pakistan, FC Mangalore’s Media Team caught up with Coach Biby Thomas (BT) in Kathmandu. In a free-wheeling chat, he opened up about the challenges during the tournament, a tricky road to the final and a group of boys heavily inexperienced due to their lack of match experience during the dreaded ‘covid era’.

“I feel for these boys as they have been unable to get the exposure and match practice allowed to other age-groups in the National Team setup primarily since they were the ‘Covid Batch’ due to which they were sheltered and shielded for lengthy periods, training in isolation and without any real match experience so coming into a major championship like this one really tested their character and resilience”, started Coach Biby.

Over the past two weeks, Team India set off on a remarkable journey which saw them dismantle some worthy opponents on what was a challenging road to the final.

“Bangladesh were arguably the toughest team in this competition that we have faced thus far and it is not easy to open the campaign against such a worthy opponent as we were still trying to find our bearings at that stage. However the boys put in an inspired effort and in the end we ran out worthy winners by 3-0. The Bhutan game was close, we ended up edging them by 2-1.”

In the semifinals against Nepal, Team India were up against the elements as well as a 15,000 crowd in the stands cheering on the home team. Eventually the boys came up on top in a thrilling victory via the lottery of a penalty shootout.

“The semis was truly a test of our nerves and our boys really showed their character. The crowd was extremely loud and voracious but hats off to the entire team for pulling through in the end”, Coach Biby noted.

On to the finale and BT seems to think that they have a good chance at winning the silverware

“We have what it takes to be champions. The tough games are behind us and in this finale we are facing a neutral opponent in Pakistan. Although they have a defensive setup and will probably look to maintain a low block, we will need to be patient and control the tempo of the game and choose our attacking moments wisely”, he concluded.

The SAFF Cup final is scheduled for Saturday, September 30th 2023 against Pakistant

The FC Mangalore Media team is a small group of hardworking and extremely dedicated individuals dedicated at bringing you a unique and fresh perspective on a daily basis.

More in National Roundup