New Delhi: Despite having a relatively new team and stronger rivals, national coach Wim Koevermans is confident the hosts would do well in the Nehru Cup, beginning Wednesday in the capital.
As per the latest Fifa rankings, India (168) are placed lowest among the five teams in the Nehru Cup. While two of the teams — Cameroon (59) and Syria (147) — are far ahead of India, Maldives (161) and Nepal (162) too are stronger, at least on paper.
Koevermans, who held a two-week camp in Bangalore before shifting base to Delhi on Thursday night, is not too bothered about the rankings. “I think our boys are actually better than what they think about themselves and have the ability to win the Nehru Cup,” the Dutch coach told The Telegraph.
In the last two editions of the Nehru Cup in 2007 and 2009, the schedule was made to suit the hosts as they met the weaker side in the competition in the opening round on both occasions. On Wednesday, however, India will open their campaign against Syria, the runners-up team in the last two Nehru Cups.
“That’s not a problem,” said Koevermans. “The schedule is fine with me… If you want to win a tournament, you have to win all the matches. It really doesn’t matter who we play first.
“The camp in Bangalore was extremely fruitful… The boys worked really hard. Now, we have to see how they perform against stronger opposition. I think the match against Syria would be very interesting,” said the member of the Netherlands team, which won the European championship in 1988.
Koevermans seems happy with the performance of striker Sunil Chetri, who reported late for the national camp because of his overseas commitments. “Sunil is playing in Europe and he has developed into a good player… All other players are going in the same direction,” the coach said.
Koevermans, who played with distinction in the Dutch league for many years as a defender, said his philosophy is simple. “We are trying to get used to a different style of play which is common world over. “The idea is to keep the ball on the grass as much as possible and don’t give the ball away easily. One is always in a position to dictate terms if he is in possession of the ball,” said the coach.