You are in the Group of Death in the Federation Cup. How are you looking at things?
There's no denying, it's a very tough group. It is the Group of Death in this Federation Cup. But the manner we have been playing in the Airtel I-League makes me confident. I believe we can do it. On a given day in a Competition like this, any Team can beat any Team.
What makes you so confident specially that your Team is ranked in the bottom half of the Table in the Airtel I-League at the moment?
It's because of the way the Team has picked up steam at the business end of the Airtel I-League just before the break. We outplayed Mohun Bagan and coming back from two goals down, we won 3-2 against Pune FC. Add to that our triumph in the Shillong Premier League. We did all in style.
The format of the Shillong League is very challenging and we have top Clubs playing in it. You play 16 matches with eight Teams playing each other twice. Then you move to the semifinal where team A and B (top two in the League Table) play the first semifinal and the winner gets direct entry to the Final; while the winner of the second semi between Team C and D (third and fourth in the League Table) plays the loser of the first semi. We beat Malki SC 1-0 in the final after securing a direct entry.
Your reunion with Manandeep Singh has been very sweet indeed. What do you expect from him in the Federation Cup?
It's not only about Manandeep but the entire contingent. Yes, the reunion has been sweet and it's nice to see him as a more mature Player now. He and Gouramangi's (Singh) experience would be the key. Then, there is the vastly experienced Tomba Singh. They have the experience of playing in the Federation Cup and would be able to guide the youngsters. Our foreign recruits are doing quite well and the Team chemistry is peaking at the right time.
You will not be having the services of Subrata Pal in goal. How much of a difference will that make, especially standing up to three quality sides?
Subrata's experience will be sorely missed. Since his arrival, he has made such an impact. Our two other Goalkeepers (Shambu Mistry and Surjay Kumar Pariya), especially Shambu was very agile in the Second division last time. But the Airtel I-League is a different ball game altogether and since Subrata's arrival, the two have learnt so much. I hope that will help them in the Federation Cup.
People believe that Santosh Kashyap has a magic wand which helps him galvanise modest outfits. What has been the secret behind your success?
I have always tried to put my best foot forward and look back at what has happened. I have learnt a lot from Mr. Wim Koevermans during the ongoing Pro-Licence Course and will be looking forward to meeting him in Manjeri. We have to show him our logbooks.
--IBNS (Posted on 10-01-2014)