1) What are your expectations for the semifinals against Mohun Bagan as India’s two best teams will face off against each other for a place in the finals?
Ans) Well, it is always very good for any team to play in the semi-finals of a prestigious tournament like the Durand Cup. It is very good for us also, especially as we have been facing some top teams. We have just started the last part of our pre-season preparations prior to the start of the ISL, and we are happy to play in competitive situations like this right now.
2) How important is it for you to field your first team squad for the Durand Cup where many teams have opted to send their reserve side?
Ans) I cannot speak about the other teams. For me, the Durand Cup is an important competition. Additionally, it also presents me the chance to prepare my team for the league season. Seeing my players react to a competitive environment helps me greatly in terms of understanding how to get the best out of them before the ISL begins itself. Additionally, doing well in the Durand Cup, qualifying for the knockouts, and maybe winning the trophy greatly boosts the confidence of the team, not to mention how big of an honour it is to win a competition like this.
3) Do you think that you have all your bases covered in terms of personnel in your squad or will the club look to sign more players?
Ans) I do not think that this is the right question now. We are in pre-season training, and we are closely monitoring how our players are working and getting themselves ready for the season. We are happy with the squad and the players are improving every week. It is not very polite to think and talk about needing other players right now.
4) How have you analyzed your opposition and what do you think will be your approach to take advantage of their weakness?
Ans) We know that we are facing a very strong team, who have a lot of money to spend as well. Thus, they can sign very good players. They have signed practically the best young Indian players in (Anirudh) Thapa, Sahal (Abdul Samad) and so on. They have signed and retained some big names in terms of foreign players as well. Facing them in the semi-finals will be a very difficult challenge, but at the same time it is also a fantastic chance to prepare for the ISL – the atmosphere at the Salt Lake Stadium will be favorable to them, and to face them in such a situation will be a great learning experience.
5) Your views about the Durand Cup.
Ans) The Durand Cup is a prestigious tournament. It is very good for any team to play in the semi-finals of Asia’s oldest tournament and the world’s third-oldest football tournament. We are happy to play in competitive situations like this right now. Doing well in the Durand Cup, qualifying for the knockouts, and maybe winning the trophy greatly boosts the confidence of the team, not to mention how big of an honour it is to win a competition like this.