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Hardworking, humble Blue Tigers ‘impress’ newly-appointed assistant coach Trevor Sinclair

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Doha (Qatar): The Blue Tigers have put their grand reception in Doha behind them, and have now begun training for the upcoming AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023.

While there are plenty of familiar faces around, a few are yet to make their senior international debut.

The coaching team, which has remained the same over the last year, has, however, had a new edition – a certain Trevor Sinclair, a former England international and World Cupper (2002).

The 50-year-old has joined the National Team as an assistant coach along with Mahesh Gawali, and attended the Blue Tigers’ training session.

“It’s been a hectic few days with all the travel, but we’ve gotten things underway with a gym and a training session, and frankly, I’m impressed,” Sinclair said to the-aiff.com. “It’s a set of hardworking, humble, enthusiastic, and talented group of lads.”

“They have a very good relationship with head coach Igor Stimac and the staff, and they want to try and do their best for the country,” he said.

A speedy winger in the Premier League with clubs like Manchester City and West Ham back in his days, Sinclair specialises in training set-pieces, which he believes, could give any team the advantage at various times during a match.

“I was a forward, a creative player, so I know very well that when you enter the final third, it’s not always about things that are in the coaching books. It’s what you see in the players and work situations to your advantage,” said Sinclair.

“We all know how statistically important set-pieces are in any football match. It’s not just for the corners and free-kicks, but also simple things like throw-ins that, if worked on, can help you,” he said.

“If you are on the back foot, and you can keep possession from a throw-in, it’s as simple as that. It’s all about those little details, and making them work to eventually put the ball into dangerous positions,” Sinclair said.

While Sinclair has not worked with Indian footballers before, he has shared some understanding of the country, its culture, and more importantly how the beautiful game is growing in it.

“I’ve got an ex-teammate (Robbie Fowler), who had coached in India before and worked for Indian broadcasters. So, I understood that there was a growing appetite for the game in India over the last decade,” he said.

“Of course, we all know about Sunil (Chhetri), and the huge mark he’s made in the world of football. It’s not just what he does on the pitch, but also how he conducts himself off it,” Sinclair said.

Having coached mostly in the UK, Sinclair feels that simplicity is the key for India, especially before facing opponents like Australia (January 13), Uzbekistan (January 18), and Syria (January 23).

“When Igor sent me the videos of the team before coming here, I could see the considerable work that’s gone into this side. It’s a nuance, not quite obvious to all people,” said Sinclair.

“I was impressed with how Igor has built this team. He’s had the maturity to get the boys to do the basics well and showcase them in the match situations,” he said.

Facing an Australian side placed 25th in the FIFA World Rankings could be a daunting task for India (102), but the 50-year-old is relishing the challenge ahead.

“We are the underdogs, but I like the challenge that comes with that status. I myself have come through from the fourth tier of English football, so I know it’s all about hard work and creating a culture amongst the players so that they can supersede the expectations and create more belief in the group,” he said. “We’ve got to fight for the shirt,” Sinclair added.

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