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United at Home against Home United
“It really is a lesson on how you get guys to play together if they share one goal,” the five-time NBA Champions for LA Lakers and former Most Valuable Player was quoted as saying in the interview.
Football the pretext and Bryant at the World Cup, the importance of a ‘common goal’ found resonance in distant quarters as Technical Director of Academies and Director of Coach Education Scott O’Donell urged the struggling AIFF XI, comprising of the India U-16 National Team, to find that common goal and belief ahead of their Group A tie against Singapore’s Home United on Saturday (June 21, 2014).
“Players have to believe in their own abilities and stay focused on what they want to achieve,” O’Donell told www.the-aiff.com on the eve of the Team’s Home-match at the Barasat Stadium.
“We believe in them,” he continued. “It is very important that the boys remain focussed and work as a Team. That is what we have to work on, and the Coaches have to work on. You succeed as a Team and belief comes with that.”
AIFF XI played a goalless draw against the same opponents in Singapore last Saturday.
“We dominated the game by all accounts. We had like ten chances to score but we couldn’t. Our finishing let us down. I don’t want to sound monotonous but we should take heart from the fact we did created chances and work on scoring goals. As a Team, with one goal of finding the back of the net, we need to work towards that.”
Two points from five outings is what the Team has managed to muster making qualification to the semifinals by finishing in the top two merely a mathematical reality. An uphill task to say the least, O’Donell chose to brush aside thoughts of qualification.
“We have to forget about qualification. More important is how we play. The boys need to think of playing like they did in Kuwait City in the AFC U-16 Qualifiers or prior to that in Dubai last year. As a unit, they need to get the best out of themselves and focus on one goal. They can, we know they can and the Coaches will need to work on the motivational aspect.”
The fact that these boys are playing in front of their home crowd and in a Tournament for the first time, where results matter is sometimes getting the better of them according to O’Donell.
“They are on live television, playing in front of home crowd, and first time in a Tournament. All these do play a part in their performances but the best part is they are learning so much.
“Travelling to different parts of Asia, sleeping in a different bed, eating different food, acclimatising to different conditions are invaluable experiences. Definitely the losses are having a negative impact on the boys. They feel down and hard done by. I might sound too repetitive but this again is within their learning curve -- to accept defeat and victory.”