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Debutant teams eager to make their mark in 2017 Workers Cup

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With the 2017 edition of the Workers Cup kicking off on Friday, two debutant teams – who are among 15 competing sides with links to the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) – are ‘honoured’ to take part in this year’s tournament.

During the Workers Cup draw, the Al Balagh Trading and Contracting and L&T-Al Balagh Joint Venture teams told www.sc.qa that their sides are eager to make their mark in a competition that has proved a huge hit. 

“We have taken an interest in the previous editions of the tournament and it is an honour for our team to participate in one of the most popular football tournaments in Qatar,” said Al Balagh coach Roby Antony, who is from India.

Antony’s team are looking forward to taking to the field and testing themselves against teams from established football nations.

“Our team is comprised of Indians and Bangladeshis and though our countries have not achieved much in football of late, we are looking forward to competing against teams who are dominated by Ghanaians and Nigerians, whose countries have been more successful,” said Antony.

Al Balagh are inspired by Indian champions Bengaluru FC, who won the I-League in 2013-14, their first ever season as a team.

“We watched Bengaluru play in the AFC Cup final at the Qatar Sports Club Stadium last November and though they lost we derived inspiration from the way they fought hard against a club from Iraq, whose national team won the Asian Cup as recently as 2007.

He added: “The Workers Cup has motivated not just our players, but all their co-workers, who will be there to cheer us on. It is a great concept and I must thank the SC and QSL.”

Sudanshu Das, who is also from India, coaches the L&T-Al Balagh Joint Venture team, which consists mostly of Ghanaians. Despite many of his players hailing from one of African football’s giants, he feels that winning the tournament in their debut season would be no mean feat. 

“My team has been training passionately for this tournament for the last couple of months. The tournament has transformed them as individuals – they are more confident as they have been able to express themselves creatively on the training pitch. I am sure their first Workers Cup will be a memorable competition for them,” said Das.

“Once the tournament starts, all teams are equal, whether they be defending champions or debutants. Football is a great leveller and Taleb Group proved that last year by winning in their first appearance. We will look to carry forward the tradition,” Das concluded.