New Delhi: India’s chief coach Wim Koevermans on Sunday night termed the Nehru Cup triumph as an “incredible achievement” as the victory came over a quality side like Cameroon which is in the top-60 in Fifa rankings.
“It was an incredible victory. Obviously, we had to straighten a few things at the half time and it was an incredible fight by the boys,” a visibly happy Koevermans told reporters at the post match conference on Sunday.
The coach also revealed how his players floundered while practicing penalties ahead of the title clash but converted all when it mattered most.
Indian team celebrate with the winning trophy after victory over Cameroon in a tie-breaker by 7-6 during Nehru cup final match in New Delhi on Sunday. PTI
“Yesterday, when we were practising penalties, the boys took eight penalties and believe it or not we missed all of them. I told the boys that this is certainly not going to happen. And then they come back in the match and score five out of five.
“I couldn’t believe it. I have had a few highs in my coaching career but this one will certainly be one of the special moments,” was the Dutchman’s frank confession.
Skipper Sunil Chhetri was even more forthright as he termed this third Nehru Cup victory as the “best among the three finals.”
“Certainly this one stands out as we beat a side like Cameroon. If someone would have told us at the start of the tournament that we could beat Cameroon, I wouldn’t have believed it. But we played as a unit. I am extremely proud of the boys,” the Sporting Lisbon Reserves striker said.
“Today, when we got into the team bus, I told the boys that no matter what happens, I am proud of you guys. Even during the match when we were 1-2 down, I told them that you guys have made me proud. We kept pulling in for each other,” he said.
From Bob Houghton’s era of playing long balls to Koevermans’ philosophy of passing game, it’s adhering to coach’s instructions has been the key feels Chhetri.
“We are a disciplined lot. Any successful team’s mantra is listening to their coach and we are no different. When Houghton was there, we followed his instructions and now that Koevermans is here, we are trying to do what he wants from us.
“It’s just five weeks and we are certainly not there where we should be but we are hopeful of doing better.”
Questioned on whether India would be playing a few International friendlies, Koevermans said, “We hope to play a few matches in October and November. The AIFF will be arranging a few matches, I guess. Obviously, the more matches we play, better it is. The key is to qualify for the AFC tournament (Asian Cup). I will also monitor their performance during Federation Cup.”
The coach and the captain seems to have struck a nice bond as just when Chhetri was asked a question in Hindi, he immediately looked at his coach and the Dutchman replied, “I know I am in India.”