For Gregg Clark, pressure is a double-edged sword. With a bunch of tough youngsters at his disposal, the chief coach of the Indian team is confident of their ability to handle the pressure of expectation in the upcoming junior World Cup, starting at the National Stadium here on December 6.
Placed in Pool C, India will face a strong Holland outfit in its opening encounter and Clark hopes that his wards will give their best on home turf.
“It puts pressure on us. Here, it is an expectant public. You can allow the pressure to affect you negatively, or use it positively. We are India; we have rightfully high expectations and will rise to the occasion,” Clark told reporters here on Friday.
Speaking about the team’s ability to bounce back, Clark asserted, “The team’s character is very strong and I feel that will stand us in very good stead.”
The Indian team has entered the last leg of its preparations and Clark cannot wait for the event to unfold. “We are quite anxious for the tournament to start. We move into the tournament hotel on Monday. That will be the real start of the tournament for us.
“Right now, we are going through the motions of another training camp. We are looking forward to next week — a tournament like this in your home country.
“I am asking the players to focus, but the youngsters need to enjoy. Sometimes, you get only one opportunity to play such a tournament.”
India will play a few practice matches in the next few days, and Clark wants to make the most out of it. “The training matches are important to us, not necessarily the results. Obviously, we will want to keep the momentum going. In terms of performances, we are trying to introduce one or two specifics during our pool games. The games are really important for us to execute those tactics in a competitive environment.”
The South African said European teams should have the edge in the tournament. “There are a whole lot of teams we have not seen. The European sides will always be difficult. Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium, which is the current European junior champion,” he said.