Vasco (Goa), Feb 26 (IANS) Indian Arrows, the developmental side of All India Football Federation, will look to finishing their I-League campaign on a high when they take on Mohun Bagan at the Tilak Maidan Stadium here on Tuesday.
The youngsters are coming into the game on the back of a 0-3 defeat away to defending champions Aizawl FC which coincidentally was their heaviest loss of the campaign as no team had beaten them by more than two goals until that point.
On the other hand, Mohun Bagan are lying at the fourth spot on the league table with 24 points from 15 matches.
However, the general impression is that these U-18 players have punched above their weight, especially with other teams fielding quality foreign players.
“When I analyse the season, I am very satisfied with the performance of the players of the Indian Arrows. Fifteen points with a team with average age of 16.9 is very unique,” Indian Arrows coach Luis Norton De Matos said.
“I never knew a team of 16 years old in the professional league who made 15 points and fight with the same level as the other teams and always fighting for victory,” he added.
However, they would look to put in a strong performance against the 2014-15 I-League winners.
The reverse fixture in December ended in a 1-1 draw where the Kolkata giants failed to beat a 10-man Indian Arrows in their backyard.
“Indian Arrows are much more talented and the coach is very knowledgeable. We have to fight tomorrow,” Mohun Bagan coach Sankarlal Chakraborty said.
Chakraborty praised the Arrows, opining that the youngsters have gone from strength to strength.
“I found that in the initial stages of I-League, Arrows played counter-attacking football. When the game started, the move started from the back. But now, they play open football. That means the players have that kind of quality to adapt in these couple of months. It is not easy to do that,” he said.
Mohun Bagan have been in excellent form on the road. They are undefeated in all their away matches so far comprising of three wins and three draws.
It remains to be seen if they can maintain their record with all three of their final games being away from home. After the Arrows test, they go up against Churchill Brothers FC and Gokulam Kerala FC.
“We have been playing very well good football in our last a few matches. In some games, we failed, but we came back in the last couple of matches”, Chakravorty added.
Chakraborty conceded that playing in the inaugural Super Cup would be a motivation for Bagan but he said that they will take it one game at a time.
With the Hero I-League season ending in a few days time, Matos suggested that it was important for the players to recover.
“The principal focus was the development. We proved that it was a very good decision to put these players and plan at this level. The progress is evident. Now it is important for the players to recover,” the Portuguese coach said.