The day after making their debut for the national team against Nepal on Thursday, Rahim Ali and Seriton Fernandes, realised that going ‘international’ is of “extremely high intensity”.
Rahim, who replaced Glan Martins in the second half of the match, even walked away with the ‘Man of the Match’.
“The level of intensity in international football is much higher. The reaction time is much less and that highlights how fast decision-making on the field needs to be for any player. I want to build on from here,” he told the-aiff.com on Friday in an interview.
“The seniors have been extremely supportive, and that was a huge motivation in itself. Coach (Igor Stimac) told me not to get tense, and stressed on me doing the same stuff which I do in training,” he added.
Seriton, who played in the defence as a substitute replacing Akash Mishra in the second half, said that the debut was a “special feeling”.
“Representing India is ultimate and realising the dream. All these years came rushing through my mind when I took to the field,” added the player from Goa.
“There is a feeling of everything and everyone being on the edge at all times during the game. In fact, I have been waiting for a long time to join the camp. This time too, I hit a roadblock in reporting to the camp in Kolkata and I want to thank the coach for granting me permission to join the team in Nepal.”
In the first of the two international friendlies against hosts Nepal at Dasharath Stadium in Kathmandu on Thursday, the home team and the visitors left the field after a one-all draw.
“The game had two phases. The first 45 minutes wasn’t good, and I am not happy at all. That’s why I made four changes at half-time, and the second half was far better as all could see. We were passing the ball, had good pace on the ball, we were picking up second balls, and coming into the final third with quality – all of which was missing in the first 45 minutes,” Stimac said in a post-match meet on Friday and added, “Nepal relied on tight defensive blocks and counter-attacks.”
Apart from Rahim and Seriton, Anirudh Thapa, who scored the equaliser, replaced Brandon Fernandes and Sahal Abdul Samad came in place of Liston Colaco in the second half.
Even captain Sunil Chhetri and Suresh Singh Wangjam were benched with Bipin Singh (70th minute) and Lalengmawia (63rd minute).
“India were the better side – we all agree, and we can play better quality football. Nepal relied on a bad pitch, tight defensive blocks, and counter-attacks. When they came to the final third, they put in dangerous crosses inside the box. The coach has put in a stable composure in the team, they have good discipline, and are showing their quality in many parts of the game,” the coach from Croatia said.
The next international friendly between the two is scheduled for September 5.