The Blue Tigers were held to a 1-1 draw in the first friendly.

Rahim Ali and Seriton Fernandes, who made their international debut for India against Nepal, admitted that their baptism of gaining an experience of International football has come with the basic understanding of the “extremely high intensity” of International Football.

After being awarded the ‘Man of the Match’ in his first-ever International appearance for the Blue Tigers, Rahim Ali said: “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.”

“The seniors have been extremely supportive, and that was a huge motivation in itself. Coach told me not to get tense, and stressed on me doing the same stuff which I do in training,” he added.

Referring back to the first International Friendly against Nepal which ended 1-1, Coach Igor Stimac averred: “The game had two phases. The first 45 minutes weren’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.”

Defender Seriton Fernandes, who came in as a substitute in the second half reiterated the “special feeling” of putting on the National Team jersey.

“Whenever any kid starts playing football, representing his country stays his ultimate dream. All these years came rushing through my head when I took to the field,” he smiled.

“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 me reporting to the National team hit a roadblock and I want to thank the coach for granting me permission to join the team in Nepal.”

Stimac explained that “Nepal relied on tight defensive blocks and counter-attacks.”

“India are 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 next International Friendly between the two countries is scheduled for September 5.

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