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I-League: Delhi-based Sudeva to field all-Indian team in maiden I-League outing

I-League: Delhi-based Sudeva to field all-Indian team in maiden I-League outing


Published: 20 Aug 2020 10:08 AM GMT

Capital's first I-League team, Sudeva FC will be fielding an "all Indian XI" in its maiden appearance in top-flight football, club president Anuj Gupta has confirmed. Gupta said he is "not looking at foreign options" for the forthcoming 2020-21 season, and wants to form a team by recruiting youngsters from his academy and experienced Indian players.

"Everyone knows how hard Indian players are working in the pre-season. So as a matter of policy this year I've decided to field an entirely Indian team. I will not appoint any foreign player this year," Gupta told AIFF TV during a chat show. "I want to have a team with both young and mature players. It's not that I will be playing with just young players, I will also have at least 6 to 8 experienced Indian players who can create a nice atmosphere for the youngsters. I want to grow the team as a big family on and off the field. Let's hope Sudeva will be able to do justice of being in Hero I-League in its maiden season," Gupta opined.

The show also featured chairman of the Sreenidhi Group KT Mahi, who won the bid for the other new team, and I-League CEO Sunando Dhar. While Sudeva will be featuring in the I-league 2020-21, the Visakhapatnam-based Sreenidhi will be competing from the 2021-22 onwards. Highlighting the concept behind the launch of Sudeva, Gupta added: "The idea of starting Sudeva was to develop players and make sure they go through a pathway so that they play at the top level eventually. Our philosophy would remain the same. However, having an I-League club just completes the pathway. So this year for sure, I'll be having a decent number of graduates from our academy, who have been trained by us for many years."

He spoke about how the club has looked after the youngsters since handpicking them from remote villages. "It's not that I've trained them, sent them back and getting them again before the I-League. After selecting them some years back we have literally been their mothers, fathers, mentors, coaches, everything till today," Gupta said. "We take pride in the fact that we have selected some talented boys from needy families and now they will become professional players. More than performing well in the team, football can secure a life and provide a job for them. If they keep their heads down and do well they will become heroes in their native places. They may go on to play international football."

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