A FLEETING glance might leave a being unimpressed. But once the eyes are trained on Chima Okorie’s wards, one realises that the line of thought would be injustice to the hard work put in by New Delhi Heroes in preparation for their maiden National League appearance.
“A gifted bunch.” In three words, Chima sums up his team. Agreed, most of them are still boys and the team lacks pedigree, but thanks to Chima’s hard work, the team is set to be the only representative in the League from Delhi and one of the few from North Zone.
It took Chima a mere 10 months to transform a bunch of no-hopers into a force to reckon with in competitive leagues.
Reaching the semifinal of the LG Cup last year gave the Heroes the confidence to achieve better results. To their credit, Chima’s boys continued the momentum and triumphed in the Delhi league this year, a title richly deserved.
Leading resolutely in the moments of glory was stopper Stanley Ciprian. Though the Nigerian does not believe in banking on a few players, he praised Harvinder Singh for his outstanding show in the local league — the forward finished with seven goals and was named the best in his trade.
“He (Harvinder) is a player of tremendous talent, tall and strong, good in the air, skilful on the ground,” Cyprian said of his teammate. “I’m sure he will be eager to carry on his good form in the tournament,” he added.
With the exception of the Durand Cup — the only blip in Chima’s resume since he joined the Heroes last year, it has been a smooth sailing for the outfit in recent times.
But past glories cannot be the passport to success and Chima’s boys gear up to face what would be their one of the toughest challenges after the unsavoury Durand campaign where they were whipped by Air India, even before they could rejoice their qualification into the main draw.
For Chima, however, it’s business as usual. That’s natural for a man, who in his heydays, baffled defenders with his skill with alarming regularity.
“Our coach has instilled the belief that we should play our natural game irrespective of the situation and the opponents.” Cyprian’s words were like the foundation of his coach’s faith in his wards.
“We have a good chance of winning the League if they can produce 60 per cent of what they have done here,” said Chima whose ultimate destination is the I-League.
“Yes, that is the common goal we share. But before that we need to make a good start.”
In that direction, the League should be a good test of their sense of mission.