Marcelo Pereira: Every year progress is a true fact in Indian football

While there has been a lot of criticism levelled at the national team and Croatian coach Igor Stimac in the wake of the 6-0 drubbing at the hands of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) earlier this week in Dubai, there has been an outpouring of support too in this gloomy period for Indian football.

Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) star Marcelo Pereira, currently on loan at 2020-21 runners-up ATK Mohun Bagan from Odisha FC, is one of the prominent voices that has come out in support of the national team in the last few days. Pereira, who has scored 33 goals and provided 18 assists across five Hero ISL seasons, took to Twitter in the wake of the defeat and expressed solidarity with the Indian team.

“UAE has two key foreign players [Fabio Lima and Sebastian Tagliabue] with local passport, [that] makes total difference in the game but we trust in the process. I am sure the future is bright for Indian football, every year the progress is a true fact,” the 33-year-old Brazilian forward, Golden Boot winner in the 2016 Hero ISL, tweeted.

53-year-old Stimac handed out debuts to a huge number of players during the two international friendlies against Oman and the UAE. In fact, in the first match itself as many as 10 players made their India debuts. While the team gave a solid account of itself in that match through a 1-1 draw thanks to a Manvir Singh header in the second half, things didn’t pan out as per plan against the UAE in the second international friendly. The Indians struggled all through the game and the consequence was that they suffered their biggest defeat in over a decade -- since their 9-1 defeat at the hands of Kuwait in November 2010.         

Another voice to express support for the national team is that of Yan Dhanda, the former England Under-17 player of Indian heritage. Dhanda, who spent his youth career at West Bromwich Albion and Liverpool before joining Championship side Swansea City in 2018, too took to the microblogging site and urged the Blue Tigers to keep working hard.

"Disappointed at the result against #UAE yesterday @IndianFootball keep working hard lads and positive results will come for sure. Good to see @stimac_igor giving new players opportunities," the 22-year-old attacking midfielder tweeted after India’s defeat.

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