Karnataka coach Ravi Babu Raju has zeroed in on defence as Meghalaya's weakness and is planning to pressure their opponents on the counter-attack in the final of the 76th National Football Championships for the Santosh Trophy at the King Fahd International Stadium, here on Saturday.
The Karnataka coach has shown great tactical acumen in preparing his side for the battles in the knockout stage and that was evident in the way they pressurised Services in the midfield to win their semifinal clash 3-1 on Wednesday.
Now faced with an opponent that is equal in strength and a first-timer in the final, Ravi Babu has gone through videos of their opponent's matches to plan for the summit clash as Karnataka plan to end a five-decade-long title drought in Santosh Trophy.
"Their defense is quite weak. So, we have to take them on the counter-attack," said Ravi Babu, adding "We have some ideas of how to play against Meghalaya. Meghalaya is a good team so they are basically very good. They have quality players, especially in the midfield and forward line. So we have prepared a strategy and we will play according to it. Then we'll see that we win against them and we'll get the Santosh Trophy."
With both teams set to make history, if they win the title, the stakes are quite high. Ravi Babu was, in the pre-match press conference on Friday, asked about what he will tell his players in such a situation.
"I will tell them 'don't lose your focus. Keep your focus. Keep your mind calm. OK, you've got 90 minutes, so maintain your focus for 90 minutes. Don't give wrong passes. Keep the ball possession and When you get the opportunity, you score'," he said.
The Karnataka head coach, who works with a team in the First Division of the Bangalore Division Football Association (BDFA) league, said it is his team's fighting spirit that has seen them come thus far in the tournament.
"Yes, especially since we do have the fighting spirit. If you see from the qualifying round till now, most of the time we have conceded the goal and then we have fought back very strongly. OK, conceding a goal is not a serious matter for us. But at the same time, we have to be calm and get focused. See, whenever we get a chance, we utilize that, Meghalaya too has the same spirit, but I think we can still overcome them," he added.
Ravi Babu agreed that conceding the first goal is a matter of concern for them and therefore he has told his players not to do so in the final.
"Yes, yeah, that's absolutely right. It's very difficult when you concede a goal and to come back again and scoring is obviously very difficult and especially against the Meghalaya team when they score first," said Ravi Babu.
Karnataka captain Karthik Govindswamy said they will be trying to play according to the strategy made by their coach.
Asked how will motivate his players, the defender from Sporting Club Bengaluru said, "When we are speaking with the boys, most of us are always trying to motivate each other. Telling each other to stay focussed, whether it is training or back at the hotel, we are only talking about not losing focus."
( 571 Words)