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“We have a squad that is capable and are confident” – Augusto D’Silva

In a fireside chat with Mr. Augusto D’Silva, Head Coach of Maharashtra’s Santosh Trophy team, he delves deeper into the ongoing preparations for the Santosh Trophy West-zone qualifiers slated to kick off from 1st December.


How many players appeared for the trials?

I don’t have the exact count, but it was 200+ participants. We had to select 30 out of them, which was extremely difficult for me as a selector. Before COVID, we had the inter-district tournaments and other leagues which made the process easier to identify prospects. But now with COVID, players lost game exposure and have been out of touch. So, overall, it has been devastating several months for the sport. But gradually, things are normalizing, which is a positive sign for us all.

Talk to us about the process which you underwent to select players?

It has been a daunting task to select players amid the pandemic. Without any footballing action during the past year, athletes went through a lot of trouble. So, it was very difficult to judge a player’s true potential through trials, but we followed set metrics to select the team.

Thoughts about players?

One advantage that I see myself having going into the tournament is that many of our boys played the I-League 2nd Division for Kenkre FC and performed exceptionally. During the course of the tournament, they underwent vigorous training and had valuable game time. Speaking about the rest, I spent around six weeks selecting them. I hope, through our sessions, we will uplift their fitness levels and get them match-ready.

How are you preparing for the season?

The aim is to focus on preparing through practice sessions and preparatory games. We are looking forward to performing well. The squad is capable and are confident. We’ll continue high-intensity training and will be monitoring the players closely. On 19th November, we will play our first practice match against HDFC. We aim to provide the squad adequate game-time before we play our first fixture.

Maharashtra is pitted in Group-B alongside Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.  The teams finishing at the top of their respective groups will then progress to the Final Round of the Hero Santosh Trophy, which is set to take place in Kerala, later this year.