Defender Anas Edathodika today praised the Indian U23 football outfit’s performance in last July’s Asian Cup U23 qualifiers leading to some players’ selection in the senior team’s camp in progress here ahead of the four-nation Inter-continental Cup.
“We need to be mentally strong, thats why young players have been chosen. The coach (Stephen Constantine) is confident (of their abilities). They played very well in the Under-23 qualifiers against Qatar, I too was impressed,” said Anas at a press conference.
“They can handle physical challenges with speed. Because of superior fitness they played well,” said the stopper back prior to Sunday’s training in the camp at the Mumbai Football Arena in Andheri.
Hosts India will kick-off their campaign in the inaugural edition of the Intercontinental Cup on June 1 when Constantine’s men face Chinese Taipei in a tournament also featuring New Zealand and Kenya.
India had lost to Qatar 0-1 and Syria 0-2 but then thrashed Turkmenistan 3-1 in the U23 qualifiers in Doha, Qatar.
“It’s (Inter-Continental Cup) a very important tournament for the Indian team. More the number of matches the better in terms of gaining experience (for next years AFC Asian Cup in UAE). Coach (Constantine) is trying to arrange more matches,” said Anas who played for Jamshedpur FC in last season’s Indian Super League.
India have been clubbed with Bahrain, Thailand and hosts UAE in the Asian Cup.
“Of course it’s a tough group. To prepare for that, this tournament has been arranged,” said Anas who had to overcome lots of family problems at home in Kerala during the ISL.
“I have got a good place to come up, not many get it. After my career when I go back to Kerala people will recognize me as an India player, more than someone who has played in ISL or I-League. I will always be remembered as an international player,” he emphasised.
“There is a lot of difference between playing for an ISL team and the national team. Its a completely different scenario,” he added.
Punjab’s Manvir Singh, who scored one of the three goals against Turkmenistan in the U23 Asia Cup qualifiers, said that after that strike the fear of playing in an international game has evaporated.
“We played very well. We gave 100% and kept fighting. It was my debut and I scored too. After that goal my fear has left,” said the striker who played for FC Goa in ISL.
About the first few days of the camp in progress Manvir said, “We are working a lot on the fitness front as we are playing teams with lots of speed”.
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