‘Playing Nepal before Iran match is not enough’
Francis Fernandes believes that India should have played a higher ranked team before facing Iran in the 2018 World Cup and 2019 Asian Cup preliminary joint qualification match on 8 September, 2015.
The Indian national team, currently ranked 156th in the world, are set to host Nepal (184) at the Balewadi Stadium in Pune on 31 August. Iran (41) meanwhile are the highest ranked Asian nation.
“We should play against a team with higher rank before playing Iran. Playing Nepal is not enough,” the 29-year-old remarked.
“Still, there is a chance,” he added. “We have to perform good and the team has to be set. There are many young players and so we have to understand each other well.”
The 28-member squad of the Blue Tigers will assemble under national team coach Stephen Constantine from 23 August in Pune.
Meanwhile, Delhi’s franchise in the Indian Super League (ISL), Delhi Dynamos FC will kick-start their pre-season on the very same day.
Following a stint with Dempo SC in the I-League last season on-loan from Dynamos, wherein the Goan club got relegated to the second division, Fernandes feels that the Delhi-based side should at least make it to the semi-finals in the second edition of the ISL.
“I have not yet signed for any team [in the I-League]. The joining date [at Delhi Dynamos] is from the 23rd (August), but before that I’ll be with the national team,” he mentioned.
“There are good players [at Delhi Dynamos]. Some foreigners are not yet signed. I hope we can do much better this season. We will definitely qualify for the semi-finals.”