MUMBAI: Former India star striker Shabbir Ali feels the national football team could learn to play to its strengths by regularly facing stronger international sides.
All India Football Federation is hosting a quadrangular tournament -- Intercontinental Cup -- at the Mumbai Football Arena here in June.
Apart from the host nation, South Africa, New Zealand and Chinese Taipei will be in the fray.
Asked about the tournament, he said, "I don't know what will be the result, but we have to play with stronger opposition as well as those who are little below us. In our time also, long back, we lost 1-0 to New Zealand. I am not sure in which year and in which tournament, we played with them during 1977-1980."
"We have to play. Since we are playing the Asia Cup, it will be very good that we are playing against stronger opposition, we will come to know about our strengths also," he quipped.
Ali was in the city for the second awards night of the Mumbai District Football Association (MDFA) held here late last night.
Defender Sandesh Jhingan had described New Zealand and South Africa as good teams.
Ali, a Dhyan Chand awardee, said, "We must not underestimate India also. Take the example of ISL (Indian Super League), when the foreign coaches came, they did not know about the Indian players. But after two years, everybody came to know about the Indian players, because of the coverage and the performance. They have improve to some extent, but they have to perform at the international stage."
The legendary I M Vijayan, MDFA president and Shiv Sena leader Aaditya Thackeray, former hockey skipper M M Somaiya, among others, were present on the occasion, in which awards in different categories from U-12 to Elite division were presented.