‘Foreign-trained’ ISL teams raring to go

Mumbai, Sep 26 (IANS) Be it defending champions Atletico de Kolkata or North East United FC who finished at the bottom of the table last summer, every franchise has had “impressive” pre-tournament training and are raring to play in the second edition of the Indian Super League (ISL).

“We are very well prepared, the pre-season training in Spain has really helped. We face Chennaiyin FC in the first match and we don’t feel any pressure, we will be going for all three points,” Atletico coach Antonio Lopez Habas told media persons here on Saturday.

Brazilian legend Zico, who coaches FC Goa, also believes his team’s pre-season preparations have been great and said he would ideally want players to follow his philosophy on the pitch.

“We have made good preparation in Dubai this year at training, we look strong on paper but we have to show it on the field. I would also want players to follow my football philosophy” Zico said.

Mumbai City FC too trained in Dubai and according to their marquee player-cum-manager, former French great Nicolas Anelka the hard work in Dubai will pay off in the league.

“The pre-season was hard work and it was hot out there. We trained well and won couple of matches there and lost one, we as a squad are waiting to get on the field and give our best,” Anelka said.

Chennaiyin FC had their pre-league practice in Italy and their manager former Italy international Marco Materazzi feels the outfit has come here with renewed confidence.

“The pre-season was fantastic in Perugia (Italy), last year we had to practice in the artificial turf at Bangalore, which was a bit of a problem but this time around we are impressed with our preparations, hope we can do well in the first game,” Materrazi said.

Last year, even with the likes of World Cup winner Alessandro Del Piero in the squad Delhi Dynamos failed to live upto the expectations, but the team is battle-ready for the tournament with a mixture of good international stars and Indian youths within their ranks.

The Dynamos is spearheaded by marquee player-manager Brazilian Roberto Carlos and they feature a host of ex-international players like Florent Malouda, John Arne Riise, Gustavo dos Santos, Hans Mulder, Adil Nabi and Toni Doblas along with top Indian players like Robin Singh, Sehnaj Singh and Francis Fernandes.

Speaking on training with the likes of Riise and Malouda in cold weather conditions in Denmark and Sweden, Indian forward Robin said:” Though the weather there was not suitable, I received a very warm welcome and it was great to train with these people by my side. I learnt a lot in these few days, they are such great players, what more can I say?”

NorthEast United FC underwent their training in South Africa and termed their stay there fruitful.

“We got to know the players and the team well, we started our training in South Africa which was really great, we hope to play as a team and hopefully we will win it this year,” said North East United FC marquee player Portuguese Simao Sambrosa.

FC Pune City conducted their training in Turkey.

The only team which stayed back in India for practicing was Kerala Blasters FC and coach Peter Taylor said it was done to help the foreign recruits acclimatise to the weather.

“We have to play here and I was impressed with the ground that was provided to me for training, we also stayed back because the foreigners need to get accustomed to the conditions here,” Taylor said.

Commenting on Kerala’s loss in the final of the ISL final last year, Taylor said: “Kerala finished in the finals, that is 100 percent success. Obviously we will try and better it this time.”

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