If the show that Pailan Arrows put up against Dempo in the opening match of the Federation Cup here is any indication, then the All India Football Federation (AIFF) developmental side is indeed ‘developing.’
Arthus Papas and co not only climbed a mountain by keeping five-time National League champions Dempo at bay in a riveting 1-1 draw at the JRD Tata Sports Complex on Wednesday (September 19), but also displayed better football on the day.
Had the crosspiece not come in the way of Arrows striker and goalscorer Holicharan Narzary twice in the second half, Arrows could easily have had the last laugh in what would have been one of the biggest upsets in recent times.
Speaking at the Post Match Press conference, Papas said: “It was a really challenging match against a top side like Dempo. They have got so many experienced players. I am really glad at the way we played today. As far as expectations are concerned, I always like to keep them outside.”
Players like Alwyn George, Milan Singh, Avinabo Bag and Deepak Devrani rose to the occasion admirably well taking the game to their more experienced counterparts. Even substitute Shaiju Mon’s darting runs down the left flank was testimony to Arrows’ bench strength.
Papas spoke on similar lines when asked if playing three matches in five days is a problem. “It is tough but I can change 5-6 players and bring in fresh legs. For me its not about the 11 players who start. Development means involving all you rmembers in the squad and that is our aim.”
The flamboyant Australian continued: “The boys are improving by the day. Since the team is very young and me too as a coach, we all want to improve every day. That’s what keeps us going.”
On their next opponents Mumbai FC, Papas said: “It’s a new day and a new team. Mumbai are a good side and play the aerial game. We have to be prepared for that. The philosophy stays the same, that is keep possession but we have to aware of their aerial attacks. We are preparing accordingly.”
Pailan play Mumbai FC on Friday (September 21) at Keenan Stadium.
The other match of the day is Dempo V Shillong Lajong.
ONGC V Kalighat MS (3PM)
Sporting Clube de Goa V East Bengal (7PM)