Indian Arrows head coach Shanmugam Venkatesh feels that the IFA Shield, which begins here on Sunday, will serve as an ideal preparation for the I-League to be held in Bengal starting next month.
The Arrows, which take part in the I-League as the developmental side of All India Football Federation, arrived here on Friday ahead of their IFA Shield campaign. The U-19 players had a brief camp in Bhubaneswar before reaching.
"The added bonus is that the players get to acclimatise themselves with the local conditions here. We are looking forward to it," Venkatesh said in an AIFF release. Venkatesh, who is also the assistant coach for the senior national team, said I-League remains the main focus of the team, with the IFA Shield providing a good platform for his players.
"The IFA Shield is a very good opportunity to gauge the team and prepare the boys for the I-League. These boys have come through the ranks from the junior national team. "Like the ones before them, they will prepare for the next step in international football, that is for the U-19 level," said the former India captain.
Indian Arrows will begin their IFA Shield campaign on Sunday, against Southern Samity at the Mohun Bagan Ground, followed by a clash against George Telegraph at the Howrah Stadium on Wednesday. The I-League this season will start from January 9 and will be played in a few venues in Bengal among 11 teams in bio-secure environment.