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Luis Norton de Matos praises Indian Arrows’ progress ahead of East Bengal clash

Luis Norton de Matos had plenty of positive words for his young Indian Arrows squad ahead of their I-League match against East Bengal at the Ambedkar Stadium in New Delhi.

football Updated: Jan 01, 2018 20:35 IST
Shayne Dias
Shayne Dias
New Delhi
Luis Norton de Matos,Indian Arrows,Indian football
Luis Norton de Matos is pleased with the progress made by Indian Arrows in the I-League so far.(HT file photo)

During the FIFA U-17 World Cup, coach Luis Norton De Matos had been at pains to remind everyone that his side must simply play more to match the standards set by the rest of the world.

While India becoming a dominant force in world football is a long way off, the Portuguese coach can be proud that his side is able to hang in with some of the top sides in the I-League.

Three consecutive defeats had stifled any momentum they gained after an opening day win over Chennai City FC, but a surprise thrashing of Shillong Lajong and a gutsy draw against Mohun Bagan have brought a spring in the steps of the young team ahead of the clash against East Bengal.

De Matos pointed out that his boys showed great character to salvage a point against Bagan despite being reduced to 10 men in the second half.

“Our result versus Mohun Bagan was good. The players showed maturity to get a point while 10 men down,” said the Arrows coach on the eve of their clash versus East Bengal in the Capital.

The sentiment was echoed by Arrows midfielder Rahul KP. “We believed we could compete against Mohun Bagan. We believe in a collective process and are confident of delivering good performances in the future,” said Rahul, who scored the equaliser against the Mariners.

The tenacity they showed against the Indian football giants earned them a standing ovation from Bagan fans, despite the home team struggling against a side most would have expect them to beat easily.

Despite the positive result, the Indian Arrows coach cautioned his players that the next game is likely to be tough, given the quality of the opposition.

“East Bengal is one of the best teams in India. (Coach) Khalid Jamil has won the I-League already. They have some good individual talent too and won’t be easy to stop,” he said.

However, de Matos said the most important thing his players must do is continue to improve and back themselves. “It is most important for the boys to believe that they can compete with India’s top teams.”

First Published: Jan 01, 2018 20:10 IST