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We can expect miracles from blue tigers in Asian Cup: Former goal-keeper

ANI | Updated: Dec 21, 2018 17:46 IST

New Delhi [India], Dec 21 (ANI): Former Asian All-Star Goalkeeper Atanu Bhattacharya, who was a part of India's squad in the AFC Asian Cup in 1984, feels that the current Indian team squad "looks confident" and can "pull off some miracles" in the upcoming AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019.
"What I really like about the current setup is that there is good chemistry amongst the players. The current batch is a tightly-knit group and most of them are of a similar age. So that helps the team chemistry. The good thing is that these players are relatively young, and they are expected to be in the team for the next few years, so you have some level of continuity," Atanu stated in an interview to AIFF.
"The advantage that Stephen Constantine's team has is that they have had a lot of international exposure having played in so many friendlies. That was a rarity during our days. The draw against China, in front of such a big home crowd, was certainly a big positive. That has added to the confidence of the team and it is bound to help in the Asian Cup," he added.
Having played against hosts Singapore in the AFC Asian Cup in 1984, Atanu is aware of the stiff challenge which the hosts will put up. "Playing against UAE in front of the home crowd in such a big tournament will not be easy at all. I remember when we played the 1984 Asian Cup against Singapore, we faced a similar situation. They had the backing of the home fans -- something that made it really difficult for us," he recollected.
"There is no reason to believe that India cannot churn out a good performance in UAE. This is a good side and we can expect miracles from them. Judging by recent performances, these are confident players, and they need to take to the pitch with a winning mentality. I believe that we can do great things this time around," he noted
Atanu, by virtue of his performance, had won a slot for the Asian All-Star squad in 1984. "That was my biggest achievement as a Goalkeeper," he said.
"We had a really good team back in 1984. The qualifiers in Kolkata went really well. Our defence was rock solid -- both Subrata Bhattacharya and Tarun Dey were simply splendid, and that is something which really helped me as a goalkeeper," he added.
Presently into Coaching, Atanu has followed Gurpreet Singh Sandhu since his early days in East Bengal.
"For Goalkeepers, experience matters a lot. We all know that keepers tend to peak at a higher age. In those terms, Gurpreet still needs to get to a certain level. Having said that, however, Gurpreet has played in Europe, something that puts him ahead of the rest of the keepers in our country. That kind of experience always matters, especially when you play in Asia," he maintained.
Atanu understands that the two central defenders playing in front of the Goalkeeper play a significant role, and he was all praise for Sandesh Jhingan.
"Sandesh Jhingan is a very good defender. We have all seen his qualities in the Hero ISL. He is a modern defender who is comfortable with the ball at his feet, and that is always an advantage. If he can combine well with Gurpreet, I think they can marshal the defence very well," he said.
"Back in my days, we had a bit of an advantage in this area. Both Subrata and I used to play for the same club, so we already had an understanding. In the current team's case, Sandesh and Anas play in the same club. So we can expect similar things from them," he concluded.
AFC Asian Cup is slated to be held from January 5 to February 1 in UAE. (ANI)