By Soumo Ghosh,
AIFF Media Team
BHUBANESWAR: India U20 head coach Shanmugam Venkatesh mentioned that it would be a special occasion for his boys to appear in the SAFF U20 Championship at the Kalinga Stadium against Bangladesh U20 tomorrow (August 5). Both teams finished as top two after engagements of the round robin league.
“Playing in a final is always a different feeling, it’s special. I myself have won 3 SAFF championships as a player and a captain, and also been in two SAFF Finals as the assistant coach of the Senior National Team. It’s been a special feeling every time,” said Venkatesh on the eve of the match. “We have all been telling our boys of the same experiences, and they are all looking forward to the match.”
While it will be a special occasion for the boys, Venkatesh did warn against complacency. “We need to make sure that we are not overwhelmed. We need to get out there and play our game, and win the match,” stated Venkatesh. “Bangladesh are a good side, and they have shown just as much in our first game. We did struggle a bit in our first match, but we have found our footing and the boys are more confident now.”
Meanwhile, Bangladesh head coach Paul Smalley said that he has viewed all of India’s matches, and have planned accordingly, ahead of the final.
“They played a very different game against Maldives than they did against us. We have reviewed all their matches and how they change their game, and we’ve prepared accordingly,” said Smalley. “We very much understand how to expose their weaknesses, as much as they would be working on exposing ours. We wish them all the best for the game.”
Both teams will have one player each suspended, with Bangladesh missing Shahidul Islam, while India will be without Parthib Gogoi.
“We are missing Parthib in this match. But that’s football. We have 23 players in the squad. We play, we win and we lose as a team. There are no individuals, and whoever is given the opportunity in his absence, it’s up to them to make the chance count,” Venkatesh quipped.
Defender Halen Nongtdu said: “We are not overconfident. We need to stay humble, and play tomorrow’s game as per the plan. We understand that we need to work together as a team against Bangladesh. Every match is a learning process for us.”
The SAFF U20 Championship Final between India and Bangladesh will kick off at 7PM IST at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar, and will be streamed live on Sportzworkz YouTube channel, and on the Eleven Sports Platforms.