New Delhi: Pailan Arrows coach Arthur Papas was late for breakfast on Friday (January 4, 2013). Reason? His wards were found wanting for some corn flakes after returning from their 45-minute training session at the Ambedkar Stadium on the eve of their 14th round I League match against ONGC on Saturday (January 5, 2013).
"Cereals, get them some cereals, where are they?" he enquired. It took some ten to fifteen minutes for the hotel staff to cater to their needs. Papas, all this while, occupied a table at the far end of the room to supervise the proceedings. Only after the boys were done with their breakfast, did the Australian break his fast.
If the above incident is anything to go by, in Arthur Papas the All India Football Federation developmental side have found the right mentor who looks into every detail in order get the best out of his U-22 lads. "The boys have done really well against the likes of Dempo, Churchill and other big clubs. It's an outstanding achievement. I don't know any other club which has no foreigners and is in the top half of the table. They have matched to the might of the foreigners and some of them can even match their talent. I am very happy with the progress they have been making," assured Papas.
The recent string of losses is 'disappointing' but at the same time Papas is glad that the boys gave a good account of themselves in every single game. Arrows for the record, last won against ONGC at home 4-1. Since then the boys in white have failed to convert their good brand of football into wins, losing to heavyweights Churchill Brothers, Dempo and East Bengal respectively.
"It's disappointing to end up on the losing side after playing so well in all the matches we lost. In the last game against East Bengal we should have converted the chances we got. But may be because in India we have virtually all foreigners playing up front, this problem is sort of inherent. Nevertheless, our forwards are working very hard and probably from this club quality Indian strikers will crop up.
About ONGC, Papas said: "They are very good at home. The last time we played them they were under strength. Yusa (Katsumi) is a good player and he will be playing I guess. We do not have our full strength squad this time with Pronoy Halder suspended and Deepak Devrani injured."
ONGC - 10th in the points table - have so far bagged nine points out of ten playing at home. The Santosh Kashyap coached side too will be without the services of central defender Robin Gurung and striker Kailash Patel "We will be missing Robin (Gurung) and Kailash Patel. Kamal Thapa is also nursing an injury," Kashyap confirmed.
"We will have to be at our best against Arrows. They have played some scintillating football this season. I love their fighting spirit a lot," added Kashyap.