As Indian Arrows begin their campaign in the IFA Shield in Kolkata against Real Kashmir FC tomorrow, November 24, Head Coach Venkatesh Shanmugam intends to make the most of the opportunity as part of their preparatory build-up for the I-League 2021-22.
“The Shield is such a historic tournament, and it will allow us a minimum two matches to test ourselves, and gauge the decision-making of the players. We have played some practice games in Bhubaneswar, but this will be entirely different,” Venkatesh stated.
“Real Kashmir FC are our first opponent, and they are an extremely physical side. That in itself will be an acid test for our boys. They will be fielding their foreign recruits, and we are looking up to the challenge. I have told my boys to enjoy the challenge, and play with no fear.”
Indian Arrows have been clubbed in Group A with Real Kashmir FC and Calcutta Customs Club. After the completion of the round robin format, the top two teams move to the second round where they need to play two back-to-back knockout matches against qualified teams from other groups to qualify for the quarter-finals.
“We have been preparing in Bhubaneswar for some time now wherein initially we worked on the stamina and the fitness levels of the players, and then moved on to the tactical part keeping the fitness schedule and regime intact,” Venkatesh informed.
“In comparison to professional and senior pros, there’s a basic difference when you work with age-group players, and it takes a bit more time. Under such circumstances, we needed some game time, and the IFA Shield is happening at the right moment for us,” he added.
The kick-off is slated for 2pm IST.