Former Indian skipper Gouramangi Singh (file picture)
Former Indian skipper Gouramangi Singh (file picture)

UAE would be strong against India at AFC Asian Cup: Gouramangi Singh

ANI | Updated: Dec 22, 2018 20:05 IST

New Delhi [India], Dec 22 (ANI): Former Indian skipper Gouramangi Singh on Saturday said the Blue Tigers' match against the hosts UAE will be the toughest in the upcoming AFC Asian Cup 2019.
"I would say UAE would be very strong. Their fans would also come in large numbers. Add to that, the team would be preparing to do well on home soil. I feel that will be our toughest match. In the two remaining group matches against Thailand and Bahrain, I feel we stand with a chance and it would all boil down to the performance on the day," he said.
"Malaysia got a favourable result against Thailand and Bahrain have been up and down with the national team in recent years so we don't really know what to expect. But at the same time, India achieved an away draw versus China and there is no reason to stay intimidated by them," Gouramangi added.
India have been drawn in Group A along with UAE, Thailand and Bahrain. They will play their first match against Thailand on January 6, followed by hosts on January 10 and Bahrain on January 14.
When quizzed about his favourite players in the current squad, Gouramangi said: "I have played with many of the players in the squad and most are my good friends so don't really have any favourites. Currently the defensive line of Pritam, Sandesh, Anas, Narayan, Subhasish are doing well. I think it is more about the entire defence sticking to their job and doing well in this tournament rather than just the pairing."
Talking about the changes in the game, Gouramangi said there is much more professional approach at present.
"I think playing positions are very much the same and not much has changed. However, nowadays there has been a significant shift in paradigm in the manner one prepares for a match, recovers after matches, research, facilities and other support. There is a much more professional approach at present - be it diet control, rehab and many other support systems which we didn't have in the past," he said.
"What is good to see is that the players starting to play now are much better exposed in terms of feedback from coaches, exposure, better opposition, and the kind of feedback they receive from their coaches and staff. The video analysis has played a major role and that wasn't the case prior. Players have always been determined to do well but now there is a support system that can give you proper feedback on where you can improve, and what are the shortfalls," he added.
When asked to pick Dream XI for India over the years, Gouramangi, who had scored India's first goal in the AFC Asian Cup 2011 against Bahrain, said: "Having played with so many players over the years it is difficult to choose a Dream XI. But I have watched a lot and have been lucky to have played with some. So my team will certainly include IM Vijayan, Bhaichung Bhutia, JP Ancheri, Sunil Chhetri, Mahesh Gawli, Deepak Mandal, Renedy Singh, Subrata Paul and myself." (ANI)