Friendly against Qatar opportunity to gauge ourselves, believes coach Derek Pereira

Friendly against Qatar opportunity to gauge ourselves, believes coach Derek Pereira

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India football’s U-23 coach Derek Pereira has been of the opinion that their friendly match against Qatar U-23 side would give the side a good opportunity to measure themselves. India have been grouped alongside hosts Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Pakistan in the AFC U-23 Qualifiers tournament.

India would be starting their AFC U-23 qualifiers campaign with a tricky friendly on Monday before the main tournament that has been scheduled to start from March 22 in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. And Pereira, who has previously represented India, has stated that it would be a good test for his side to know where they stand and identify their loopholes.

"It's a perfect opportunity to gauge ourselves before the qualifiers. The match against Qatar provides us the opportunity to get a fair idea of where we stand, and where we need to work on. The focus will be more on finding the right combinations, and style of play," said Pereira, reported IANS.

The coach has also been of the opinion that fitness would always be the most crucial aspect of football, after eleven players out of the 23 selected for the final squad, who are from Indian Arrows, had a long home season.

"Fitness is one part that carries paramount importance in modern football. We have to sustain 90 minutes on the pitch, both on the attacking and the defensive front. Joel (Carter) is doing a good job and he brings in experiences of working in the Senior Team. He's helping the boys stay in good shape," Pereira added.

With Qatar all set to host the FIFA 2022 World Cup, their U-23 side would be all focused to strive to be the core pool of emerging talents and would give their all, and Pereira was well aware of that.  

"The match is going to be a tough one for us, hands down. They are the current Asian champions, and for a reason. Some of the members of the U-23 squad have already played in the Asian Cup and most importantly, they will be the nucleus of their 2022 World Cup squad. They are a side who are technically and tactically very strong and we have to be absolutely on our toes throughout," he explained.

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