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I-League winning coach Nawas calls for unified league

By Pti
Chennai City coach Akbar Nawas

Coimbatore, March 10: Chennai City's I-League-winning coach Akbar Nawas Saturday (March 9) called for an unified league with 20 teams, saying it would "benefit" the national team.

Uncertainty looms over I-League's future with the All India Football Federation (AIFF) mulling bringing the league's top teams into the ISL fold.

"I hope we are there next season. It is not for me to comment. I think there should be a unified league with 20 teams. The national team would benefit more. Every professional player should play at least 45 games a season," said Nawas.

Chennai City were crowned champions of the 12th I-League

Nawas gave all the credit to his players after finishing on top of the table with 43 points from 20 matches.

"All credit to the players. They showed their character today. They helped each other and they delivered. There was a lot of pressure. During the half time, I told them that during every single attack we should look for goal.

"Everything was going against us. Eslava getting injured and then an early goal, it became very difficult. The way we played in the second half it shows our character. To be honest, I was happy that we were a goal down because I was pretty sure we could come back," stated Nawas.

The Singapore-based coach still believed that his side has room for improvement and his job is to take the Indian players to the next level.

"This is a process I repeat. The I-League win is a bonus. We have room for improvement. Next season we have to see how we can concede fewer goals and be more effective on the break," Nawas said.

"This season we kept possession and now we should try and do that more in the opponent's half. We have to go up another level as these players must get called up for the national team.

"The win will boost confidence. All clubs now know that we can play this kind of football and still win. My players put my name on the landscape of Indian football. It is for them. I am very happy," said the I-League winning coach.

Twenty-year-old Gourav Bora scored a brace in the win and the young defender heaped praise on his teammates for helping him grow as a player.

"It is a great feeling. Our coach told don't think about the score and focus on the game. The entire squad deserves credit for this victory. The foreign players have helped us a lot to get accustomed to this style of play.

"On other days there a lot of foreign players in the box and today the full focus was on Manzi. So I took advantage of that and scored the goals," Bora said.

Second-placed East Bengal's coach Alejandro Menendez said, "I'm proud of my team. My team played very well this season. We have made progress and have overcome difficult situations. Now I have to keep all of the good things."

The former Real Madrid Castilla coach added, "I think when you lose a title, it is not because you lost one game. I now want to keep all of the positives. There is not a special reason. We had one team that wanted one more point than us. The team who got more points won the title."

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Story first published: Sunday, March 10, 2019, 9:21 [IST]
Other articles published on Mar 10, 2019
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