Kathmandu, Aug 30 IBNS | 2 years ago

Indian national football team captain Sunil Chhetri on Friday said that the team need to start from scratch for the SAFF championship here.

"Past is past. This is a different Tournament. We need to begin from scratch. We just cannot rest on past laurels and take it for granted that History will repeat itself," Chhetri maintained at the pre-tournament official press conference.

"We want to defend our Title. India are the Team to beat in SAFF Championships and there's always pressure on a Team which wins. But we are ready for it," National Coach Wim Koevermans, sitting next, assured.

Earlier in the morning, the Indian Team had a "high intensity" practice session at the Police Headquarters Ground, the same complex where India had practiced the previous two days.

"We play our First Final against Pakistan on September 1. Every match is a Final for us. And we intend to play five of them," Koevermans added.

"We understand that every opposition is a strong one. And let me make it clear, we are never underestimating any team," he said.

Koevermans also put the boys through a set of set-pieces during practice.

"We hope for some support from the Indians based here in Kathmandu and even from the locals," midfielder Mehtab Hossain maintained at the Official Media Interaction at the Police Headquarters ground.

Sunil Chhetri and Wim Koevermans at the Official Press Meet in Kathmandu.

"India versus Pakistan is always special," Koevermans pronounced. "In fact, the Players know more about it than me. We have had high intensity training sessions after arriving in Kathmandu and the boys have trained properly," he said.

"The SAFF Championship has become a must-win Tournament for us. And I tell you, it's tricky -- very tricky indeed," Mehtab sounded a cautious note.

"We have a squad of 20 and if anyone picks up any injury it can upset all plans," he went on. "In fact, it's the same for all of the teams," he said.

Gouramangi Singh said: "It just simply counts as to what you have done in the past. We are in tough group and playing every alternate day. That's the challenge but we are ready."

India have come in the Championship playing two matches unlike most others Teams.

"We played against Tajikistan and then a match against Bengaluru FC. But even last year prior to the Nehru Cup we did the same. I'm happy with the preparation which we have had. I don't have any complaints," Koevermans said.

The championship kicks-off on Saturday when hosts Nepal take on Bangladesh at the Dasrath Stadium.

(Posted on 30-08-2013)