Kolkata (West Bengal) [India], March 2 (ANI): The wait for Indian football fans is coming to an end as the I-League restart on Thursday with newcomers Sreenidi Deccan FC taking on last season's third-place team TRAU FC at Naihati Stadium.
Sreenidi Deccan are targeting their first-ever points in the I-League after they were beaten 3-2 by Neroca FC on the opening day. "During the break, we signed two more foreign players (Kheir and Ogana), which is good for the team. We couldn't win our first game, but the break gave us more time to correct our mistakes," said coach Fernando Santiago Varela.
Girik Khosla scored Sreenidi's first-ever Hero I-League goal against Neroca and coach Varela was all praise for him. "Girik has the quality to play in any tournament in the country. He is hungry to learn new things. He is very versatile and is an important player for us."
Sreenidi have assembled a solid backline with the pairing of Hamza Kheir and Mohamed Awal in defence. "For me, Hamza and Awal were the two best centre-backs in the I-League last year. Both will contribute a lot with their experience," claimed Varela.
Awal asserted that the Hero I-League is a tough challenge. "We can win, lose or draw. Whatever happens, we move on because there are more games ahead. We don't dwell on the past, we think about the next game. Most importantly, we need our first win in the league."
The Ghanaian added that the team doesn't solely depend on foreigners. "Once we sign for the league, we are professionals. I don't understand the difference between foreigners and local players because we're all football players and stay as a family."
TRAU FC got their first taste of life without last season's top-scorer Bidyashagar Singh as they were held goalless by a resolute Indian Arrows defence on Matchday 1 in December. "We were pretty disappointed with the result against Arrows as we couldn't score. Against Sreenidi, we have to get all three points. We watched their last match and analysed them," said assistant coach Surmani Singh.
TRAU added two new Brazilian players to the squad during the break, Douglas Santana and Fernandinho. Gerard Williams also returned to the team after two years. "We have a lot of expectations from all the new players. We know about Williams' quality as he was with us previously," he added.
TRAU have also signed promising defender Buanthanglun Samte, who is hoping to make his Hero I-League debut. "The break was beneficial for me as I was injured during December and now I've come back stronger," said the youngster. (ANI)