Success is a journey, not a destination. This proverb has often been used in various contexts. However, we have perhaps seen it in action more in the sporting arena, than anywhere else.
Blue Tigers midfielder Brandon Fernandes is a firm believer of that and feels that it is very important for the current Senior Men’s National Team to utilise every opportunity to play and gain experience at the Asian level, in order to prepare well for the AFC Asian Cup.
“Big Tournaments always have a prize, an objective at the end, and it is very important to work towards that objective,” Brandon said. “But you can’t get to the objective with just the click of a button.”
India are set to utilise the FIFA International Window in March 2023 to play the Tri-Nation International Football Tournament, where they will face Myanmar and Kyrgyz Republic on March 22 and 28, respectively, at the Khuman Lampak Stadium in Imphal. Brandon believes that such matches are important to prepare the team.
“The Friendlies in the International windows are very important for the National Team to reach the desired levels before the Asian Cup next year,” he said. “Every window is important for us to play as much as we can, so when the Asian Cup comes, we have to be ready for it.”
The Blue Tigers squad is full of youngsters, who have done well at the domestic level, and are looking to get the first bite at the cherry they have all aspired for – international football. Brandon, who himself was a new entrant into the team around four years ago, is now one of the regular boys, and has taken up the mantle of helping the ones that are now coming in.
“It’s very important that the new guys that come in, feel welcome in the team. They need to be nurtured and encouraged,” said Brandon. “We all welcome them and try to help them as much as possible, and hope that they play well when they get their chance on the pitch.
“I myself had always dreamt of playing for the National Team, and then National Coach Igor (Stimac) coach had brought me in. I’ve always wanted to do well here, and he, along with the seniors have helped me,” said Brandon.
The players that make it to the National Team are the best in the domestic football structure in the country. However, International football is a different ballgame.
“International football is always challenging and played at a different pace. At the domestic level, you have both Indian and foreign players, who tend to have a physical advantage. But in International football, it’s the Indian players who have to do the job,” he said. “It’s all about how you adapt in the end. The level of competition demands that you do.”
Brandon is known as one of those creative midfielders, who are known for the sheer passing prowess on the pitch, and their ability to read spaces and teammates’ movements. In fact, that is something the medio enjoys a lot.
“Passing is important in the game. Whenever we play at the international level, if we don’t pass, we suffer. I always try to help my teammates get the ball in space and create chances for them with my passes,” said Brandon.
With just two days left for the Tri-Nation International Football Tournament, Brandon feels that it is important for the team to exhibit a good brand of football against Myanmar and Kyrgyz Republic.
“Both the games will be tough, as Myanmar and Kyrgyz Republic are both good teams,” he said. “We have to approach both games with a lot of courage and play a good brand of football and try to win them.”
The Tri-Nation International Football Tournament matches will be broadcast and streamed live on Star Sports 3 and Disney+ Hotstar, respectively.