Papas optimistic against Lebanon

India U-22 coach Arthur Papas is keen on a good start to the AFC Championship when his wards take on Lebanon in Oman.

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“It is our first match of the Championship and is a critical one. A good start can provide us the optimism to look a qualification,” head coach Arthur Papas maintains ahead of India’s match against Lebanon.

With things taking a bit more than usual to settle down after checking into the Muscat Hotel on Thursday (June 21), a few of his wards arrived a bit late for lunch. They had to sing. “Jana Gana Mana…” The start just couldn’t have been better.

“This is very necessary. There’s unity in the team. We need to push ourselves to be on time and perfect for everything. Football is all about that,” midfielder Lalrindika Ralte adds.

On the field, Papas has been stressing on a new style of play - a style which emphasises on keeping possession of the ball. Once you get it, you can’t afford to let it go. And you have to admit, the boys have shown “tremendous maturity.”

 “The practice sessions are fun. We are enjoying it. Everyone is enjoying it,” Ralte said.

Off the field, almost every moment, he is on his toes.

“Water intake should be high. No desserts please. No late nights. Take enough rest,” Papas goes on.

The conditions in Oman were supposed to be foreign. There’s a heat wave which will prompt you to believe the indoors are the best place on Earth. But the Camp in Delhi and Dubai has proved beneficial.

Lebanon challenge India in their first match on June 23 (IST: 6.30pm). Iraq, UAE, Turkmenistan and Oman follow.

“We stay on the threshold. We have adjusted to a new style, it’s a new bunch and we have a new Coach at the helm. There’s a more definite approach at the moment. I’ve recovered fully and am fit at the moment,” captain Jeje Lalpekhlua said.

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