ANI Photo | “I have faith in way this team is playing…”: India’s assistant coach as team prepares for AFC Asian Cup

India’s assistant coach of men’s football Mahesh Gawali has said that ahead of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup, the team is showing the right attitude on and off the pitch and he has a lot of faith in the way the team is playing. 
The 2023 AFC Asian Cup will take place from January 12–February 10, 2024. It was initially set to be hosted by China, but was given to Qatar due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was postponed to 2024 due to high temperatures in the Persian Gulf and Qatar’s participation in the 2023 Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) Gold Cup. 
India is placed in Group B along with Australia, Uzbekistan and Syria. They finished at 17th in a previous tournament in 2019 and their best result is a runners-up finish in 1964. 
“Honestly, I have a lot of faith in the way this team is playing. Everyone is showing the right attitude on and off the pitch. It has surely raised its bar considerably higher now. I feel that when we play Australia also, it will be very difficult for them to beat us. I have this feeling because my confidence level has grown, which was not as much when I entered the senior team last year. At present, things are different. So, if we continue working the way we are now, it will be very good for each of us,” said Gawali as quoted by the All India Football Federation (AIFF). 
Talking about skipper and star player Sunil Chhetri, Gawali recalled that the veteran was not always in playing eleven initially but he started to become a stronger player with time and is a “thorough professional”. 
“When he first came to the National Team, Sunil was not always in the starting eleven. But I found him someone, who was ready to give everything to be in the starting line-up. Slowly he started getting goals and became very strong as a player. His dedication and motivation level is still very high,” said Gawali. 
“He does not give up. Sunil is a thorough professional, and very disciplined in terms of his food, rest and in every aspect of life. This is what is helping him to grow better and become stronger. Every youngster should learn from him. He is focussed, dedicated, gives his hundred per cent and most importantly, he never says “I can’t”,” added the coach. 
Talking about head coach Igor Stimac, Gawali said that Stimac is a “very intelligent coach”. 
“Igor is a very intelligent coach. He understands each one of his players. He taught them to build up from the start. He told the players that if there is any pressure, they need to do the build-up, which will give them confidence. The process surely takes time, it is not something that can happen in one day. If we notice, we rarely kick the ball up these days. Igor truly believes in individual creativity.” (ANI)

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