NEW DELHI: India Under-17 football team's defender Sanjeev Stalin on Monday said that despite starting the U-17 FIFA World Cup as underdogs, they are ready to "surprise everyone" when the tournament starts on Friday.
"We are confident in our collective ability as a team going into the FIFA U-17 World Cup. We will play to win and we will give our opponent a tough fight. We understand that we are underdogs in our group, but we have plans to surprise everyone," Stalin told www.the-aiff.com.
India is placed in Group A along with the United States, Ghana and Colombia. They take on the US on Friday.
"It is a historic moment for Indian Football and every Indian in general. We need the support of our 12th man -- the fans -- to cheer for us in numbers when we play against the US. It is not only our FIFA World Cup, this belongs to every Indian and every Indian is part of this amazing moment," Stalin said about their opening game.
The Bengaluru boy brushed aside talk of pressure, saying this is a "good type of pressure" and he is soaking it all in.
"Pressure is part and parcel of an athlete's life. The pressure to perform is always there be it in a big tournament or a comparatively less one. As athletes, we have to deal with pressure and although obviously there is pressure before the FIFA U-17 World Cup, it is a good type of pressure which personally helps to motivate me," he said.
"Any pressure which drives me to perform better even than my potential is good pressure. The good pressure helps me to keep motivated and inspired. It helps me to perform even better in tight situations as it provides me with an extra drive to go all out," he added.