TAJIKISTAN – INDIA
Match for the positions: 15-16
January 20th, 2017; Saint Petersburg, St. Petersburg Sports and Concert Complex, 300 spectators
Best players: Hanonov, Mohamad
Post match comments
Vitalii Levchenko, Head coach of team Tajikistan:
– Analyzing the performance of the opponent, I took into account that their head coach comes from Germany. He built up a well-organized team that has good technical skills. Before the match I warned my players that India is a very fast team, it’s easy for it to make a transition from defense to attack, and the players have great starting speed. So if we are not good in pressing, we should go back to our side of the pitch to take the ball from India. And then we should counterattack. That was the plan. But the match broke in two parts: before the red card and after. Before the red card we held the initiative but lacked sharpness. After we switched to counterattacks. We scored a winning goal during one of them. I want to thank my team for their self-possession and character!
– During one of the press-conferences your colleague from team Kazakhstan mentioned that their football evolved after joining UEFA. What are your thoughts about this?
– We have a couple of teams that can be regarded as leading – Japan, Iran, Saudi Arabia. They are role models for other teams from the continent. If we compare Asian and European football, then the European level is, of course, much higher in all aspects: infrastructure, development, overall attitude to football. By all means, we want to play in Europe, but there are some geographical reasons that prevent us. Kazakhstan is a very big and rich country, and they are capable to execute such a project. If only we could do the same, we would have had an opportunity to make a big step forward.
– How do you assess your team’s performance on the Granatkin Memorial?
– Very well. We played 6 matches, and most of them against European teams. The level of our opponents was very high, so we gained a lot of experience here. As for the tournament organization, everything went fine, and I don’t have anything to complain about. All of our wishes were fulfilled by the LOC. About the timing… The beginning of January is a period when players are only gathering, so they are forced to progress with each game. The good example is Greece: they lost their first match to us, but then adapted and won the group. They have some strength in their reserve. But we also have pluses. I guess we won’t have chances to play that amount of matches throughout the year. So thank you for the invitation! We always responded and will continue to do so. If the tournament is held in February, it will be a bit better, as most players will already be training in their clubs by that time – they will have a chance to come to the tournament prepared.
Nicolai Adam, Head coach of team India:
– I love my job, but sometimes it is very hard, as it’s bitter to watch my team lose. I think that this is a good experience for us. Unfortunately, not everything went according to the scenario we developed. But I still believe that team India is on the right way of development.
– The Head coach of the National team of India is Stephen Constantine. Do you keep in touch with him? Do you choose the tactical scheme according to his recommendation?
– We are great friends with him. We contact a lot! But I am travelling, and he stays in India mostly. He has his own team to work with, so he does not give any advice to me.
– What can you say about overall performance of your team during the Granatkin Memorial?
– I can repeat once again that the World Cup is our main goal. To tell you the truth, before the tournament I thought we would lose all our matches. I must admit that we are weaker physically and we are younger than other teams. But I am satisfied with the way we represented India, as we showed competitiveness. I do not want to offend anyone, but I believe that is was not the good play of the Russian team (Russia won 8:0), but the fact that we were not ready to compete against Russia rather. We played very well in other five matches! We had time to create our style and philosophy. Our players are shorter than their opponents by nature. But this has positive sides. If you want to develop, you need to play against taller, stronger and older guys. This is the way to progress. In other case, the German scenario can happen, when the U-19 players were winning everything, but when they got into the adult championship, they almost got lost, because they were not used to play against older opponents. We lacked the last pass on this tournament, but this is a thing that can be corrected over time.
– How do you find the tournament and the time of the year when it is held?
– It is really great that Russia has people capable of holding this tournament for the 29th time. I can’t stop but saying that I like the tournament and the atmosphere. I am eager to tell everyone about it. And I don’t really understand why my fellow countrymen from Germany stopped coming here, as I know you always send them invitations. So I am ready to help you with that. As for the timing, I am very glad to see Saint Petersburg decorated for the New Year’s Eve and Christmas! (smiling).