Joao Deus: The best Indian player in my opinion is Rowllin Borges

Less than a week before Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2017-18 gets underway, Kolkata welcomed ATK, Delhi Dynamos FC, Jamshedpur FC and NorthEast United FC for the second Hero ISL media day ahead of the new season. Two players and the head coaches of each club were at the event held at the Novotel hotel in Kolkata on Sunday. The participating players and coaches took part in candid interviews where they answered questions from reporters, while also sharing their views.

Delhi Dynamos gaffer Miguel Angel Portugal made it clear that he wants his side to play possession football and keep as much of the ball as possible. “I hope we play possession football, but if we need to change our approach, I will,” the Spaniard explained. “We will definitely try to keep as much of the ball as possible and always go for the win”.

Their new custodian, Albino Gomes, shared how he thinks a longer league will benefit players. “A longer league means players will get more time for recovery, which is a big plus for us because we have to recover and relax,” he said.

He also added that the Hero ISL is helping improve the quality of Indian football. “In the last three years Indian football has improved a lot through the ISL. The national team qualifying for the AFC Asian Cup and the Indian U-17 team’s performance show that.”

NorthEast United FC head coach Joao Carlos Pires de Deus heaped praise on Rowllin Borges and went on to state that the midfielder is the best Indian player according to him. “We have the best Indian player in our squad in my opinion, which is Rowllin Borges. Hali Charan (Narzary) and him are both part of the national team and we have other quality domestic talents as well,” he went on to say.

He also spoke about how qualifying for the semi-finals is their minimum target for the season. “Our aim is to reach the semi-finals, but football is a complex game and not easy,” he said. “However, it can be made simple with definite ideas. My players understand very well what our concept of the game is. So, let’s start as quickly as possible and enjoy it.”

Jamshedpur FC have hired Steve Coppell as their head coach for the upcoming season. A finalist with Kerala Blasters last year, Coppell shared his thoughts about his new side. “As a new club, everything is brand new. Those of you who make the trip (to Jamshedpur) will appreciate the work that is going on in the stadium. I don't think I can say anything about expectations, because it's a new team that doesn't have much experience in the league. But we’re hoping to go as far as possible,” the Englishman said.

Defending champions ATK have the legendary Teddy Sheringham at the helm and the former Manchester United striker is raring to get started against old foes Kerala Blasters. “I love the fact that we'll have 60,000 screaming fans against us. We'll be under pressure in a hostile atmosphere. As a footballer you prefer that as opposed to playing in front of say 4,000 people,” he said.

However, he also had some bad news for ATK fans. “Robbie Keane has picked up an Achilles problem in Dubai, he's been taking a few injections for it but will be out for the first few weeks,” he revealed.

Hero ISL 2017-18 begins on November 17 as Kerala Blasters FC and ATK renew hostilities at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi.

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