The AIFF developmental team returned to the top flight and although they finished bottom of the table, going through the rigours of a league campaign will stand the youngsters in good stade.
A dream came true when 11 youngsters walked out at a FIFA World Cup stage wearing the Indian tricolor in October 2017. The journey, however, was short-lived. The return of All India Football Federation (AIFF) pilot project ‘Indian Arrows’ saw this team amalgamate with the U-19 lads to take on senior footballers.
Four wins in 18 games isn’t a great testimony, but you would have to see the gameplay to believe. At the back and at the heart of midfield, Indian Arrows looked calm and composed, passing and moving forward with consummate ease. This trend continued higher up the pitch, but only in patches. Here, we’ll take a detailed look at the season of Indian Arrows, certainly India’s bet in the future.
Fact Sheet for Indian Season 2017-18
Season Finished: 10th
Games Played: 19
Drawn : 3
Win %: 21.05
Probably the most difficult pre-season amongst all the I-league sides, the Indian Arrows had a pre-season at the AFC U-19 Championship Qualifiers, plying their trade against Asia’s best. The Indian Colts played Saudi Arabia, Turkmenistan and Yemen in Dammam and showed flashes of brilliance in patches.
The lads had also played a World Cup and certainly had stayed together for a good time. Luis Norton De Matos chose the best from two squads: One that participated at the U-17 World Cup and the U-19 Indian side. The team was certainly exciting for the audiences, both on and off the paper.
Underperformer of the Season
Not really a flop, Meetei is someone who has failed to nail down a regular slot under Luis Norton de Matos. The fact that Meetei was a regular under erstwhile coach Nicolai Adam questions his adaptability in a minuscule way. Meetei played the full 90 on only one occasion, against the young Shillong Lajong side.
The boy needs to adapt to the 4-2-3-1 system better, and Khel Now understands that his one-dimensional right-foot is his only undoing. Blessed with impeccable ball control and pace, Meetei certainly has it in him and in the right system, can be a tough candidate to handle. At the Arrows though, he has been more of a fringe player.
Top 3 Performances
- Indian Arrows 3-0 Chennai City FC ( Match Report and Highlights)
- Indian Arrows 3-0 Shillong Lajong FC ( Match Report and Highlights)
- Mohun Bagan 1-1 Indian Arrows ( Match Report and Highlights)
Manager’s Report Card
On a scale of one to 10, Luis Norton de Matos deserves a 6.5 or a 7. The man handled his troops well with scarce support, questionable schedule and a herculean task. The team, though, looked unscathed for the better part of the tournament and jadedness came into play after niggles and injuries, something commonly seen in the game.
Norton, though, ensured the team played most of its game with the ball at the feet and close, inter-linked passing. The Portuguese needs to work more on the positioning of his team and the creative aspect in the final third. Arrows, throughout the campaign, looked poor in possession in the opposition half.
Credit must also be given to the man who did not allow the departure of goalkeeper Dheeraj Singh Moirangthem affect the team. Prabhsukhan Gill seamlessly donned the custodian’s role and was consistently good. The departure of Sahil Panwar also did not affect the team much. Matos seems to have struck it right with the boys, with both strictness and relaxation in the right amount.
Lessons To Be Learned
A good start is a job half done, and only half done. Indian Arrows started off with a blinder, blanking out Chennai City FC 3-0 in the first game. The tournament, beyond this game, was only good in patches. The boys surely learnt a great deal in terms of maturity, match management and how their bodies reacted when put against a physically dominant opposition.
The fact that Indian Arrows played football different from the Indian National team helps, but the Colts need to apply the same design up top. The boys need to find more spaces, pull defenders with them and the team work needs to get better in order to ensure better results. With a season gone, it is certain that this team can grow by leaps and bounds and if groomed right, can achieve new heights.