In the final after four straight wins, Syria are confident of leaving India undefeated. “I can already see myself taking home the trophy, coach Fajer Ebrahim said ahead of Monday's final against India who, at 156, are 61 slots below Syria in the latest FIFA rankings.
And that's not the only thing Ebrahim told HT. “India were good in the last edition. They were pretty active and played fast football. This time around they are very slow and lack in skills.”
Call it mind games or what you will but what he said next is bound to have Bob Houghton's India bristling. “I just need to field seven players to take India out. They are a very easy team now. I am pretty confident of taking the trophy home this year,” Ebrahim, whose team beat India 1-0 on Saturday, said.
Asked what, according to him, should be done to improve the standard of Indian football, Ebrahim said: “ India wants to improve their standard of football? They should first improve their street football.”
The fact that India made a preseason trip to Dubai and Barcelona before the ONGC 14th Nehru Cup doesn't bother Ebrahim who has been with the national team for five years now and under whom Syria lost 0-1 to India in the 2007 final. “Agreed we didn't practice as much as India but that doesn't affect us. My players are young and perhaps not as much experienced as the Indian national team. But the one thing I know is that we are going to take the final.”