A day prior to India´s semi-final against Nepal in the Women´s SAFF Championship, Indian Women´s Team Head Coach Sajid Dar isn´t much willing to read into India´s last match against Nepal in the SAG Final which had ended 4-0 in favour of India. “Nepal are much more prepared for this Tournament,” Sajid feels.
In a freewheeling interview to AIFF Media Sajid speaks at length about Nepal´s strengths, the poor finishing against Bangladesh, confidence within the squad, lack of recovery time, and much more. EXCERPTS:
How do you rate Nepal as a Team?
There´s no denying that they are one step ahead than all the rest of the Teams in the SAFF Championship. They have prepared thoroughly for the Championship. They are a very strong side and have always been tough competitors.
You said they have prepared ´thoroughly´ for the Championship.
I have heard that its been almost two months that they assembled together to prepare for the Tournament. When you stay and train together for almost two months, it reflects your strength. They have also played some friendly matches against Malaysia and are look very match fit. We rate them very highly.
The last time India played Nepal, India won the Gold medal in a one-sided final at the South Asian Games final in February 2016. What has changed since then?
That particular match is past tense, its history. The sport will never guarantee you the same result every time. This is a new Tournament and everything is different. But yeah, that particular match gives us the confidence and reminds us of our capabilities.
In comparison to that Championship, I feel Nepal are much more prepared for this Tournament. Having a look at their group league matches, one can understand they have a different plan this time. We have to stay on our toes.
Was the draw against Bangladesh a setback to the Team?
Not at all! We played some wonderful football which was appreciated by all. Call it the beauty, or the cruelty of the game, you will always get some unexpected results. But such results always make you more motivated to prove all wrong. It unites the Team to believe more in yourself.
You said that against Bangladesh ´you couldn´t convert the chances´ that came your way. Is finishing a concern?
Despite Bangladesh being totally defensive all throughout, we created many chances and were denied by the woodwork thrice. That speaks about our domination and prowess. At our preparatory camp, we had worked extensively on our finishing. You need to remember that we had scored five goals in our first match against Afghanistan.
Yeah, we need to improve but it isn´t a concern at all.
How much are the girls motivated?
The girls have just one day of rest in between to get ready for Nepal. In sharp contrast, Nepal, with an extra day of rest will be in much better shape than us. But we are ready to give our best on the field. We are confident and will plan accordingly. The match is like a final to us.
(The kick-off at the Kanchenjunga Stadium in Siliguri is at 2 pm)