India are all set to kick off their 2019 King's Cup campaign on Wednesday in Buriram, Thailand as they get ready to lock horns with Curacao who are making their debut in the competition.
Speaking on the eve of his side’s tournament opener against the Blue Tigers, Curacao head coach Remko Bicentini said, “We are very proud to be here for the King's Cup and to play for the first time in Thailand.”
The match will see Croatia’s Igor Stimac make his India national team debut as head coach and Bicentini is expecting the Blue Tigers to come out with a changed approach.
“India have a new coach now. India are a good team and have a dangerous striker,” the Curacao head coach stated.
“There is good quality and energy with players who have played together for a long time. Now that they have a new head coach, they will change the system.”
Bicentini believes that rubbing shoulders against the likes of India, Vietnam and hosts Thailand in the tournament will be a good exercise for his men.
“I am surprised by the quality of Vietnam players,” he said. “This is the first time that we will play teams like India, Vietnam and Thailand. It is good for us to play teams such as these. It will give us a good idea of where we stand.”
Several Curacao players have plied their trades in Europe’s top leagues including skipper Cuco Martina who has previously played for the likes of Everton and Southampton. However, a few of them will be missing the tournament due to their club commitments.
“We have selected the team from the best players available to the coach and selectors,” Bicentini explained.
“It is a difficult time because some players need to make a preference. That is why some players cannot be here right now in Thailand.
“Normally we would want to bring the best players to represent the national team.”
The relentless heat in Thailand notwithstanding, Bicentini is aiming for a successful King's Cup debut before his team takes part in the Gold Cup in the United States.
“When you start a tournament like this, you, of course, aim to be champions. This is the first time my players are playing in such heat,” he said.
“After a few days of training here, the players are starting to adapt. You want to take this tournament very seriously since after this we go to the Gold Cup.
“For me and the players, we want to make the best of the tournament and the training we do in this period. Winning the trophy is, of course, the main target.