Former Bengaluru Title-winning Coach Westwood Says Punjab FC Can Challenge For I-League Crown
The 45-year-old Westwood, who took charge as Punjab FC head coach in July, said his team has the balance of youth and experienced players to make a challenge for the I-League title.
Having earlier won the I-League twice with Bengaluru FC, English coach Ashley Westwood wants to repeat the success with Punjab FC in the upcoming season beginning on December 26. The 45-year-old Westwood, who took charge as Punjab FC head coach in July, said his team has the balance of youth and experienced players to make a challenge for the I-League title. "We want to create a healthy, honest, and hard-working team. We have balance of youth and experience in the squad so we can challenge for the I-League (title)," Westwood said in a virtual press conference.
"The players we have signed give us balance and have been brought onboard for not only their abilities but also their professionalism and experience."
Last season, Punjab FC finished second in the first phase of the league before ending at fourth in the title round.
"I know the players I've worked with earlier will do things the right way and be role models for not only the younger players at the club, but also those at our academy and our fans," said Westwood who guided Bengaluru FC to two titles in 2013-14 and 2015-16.
Westwood left Bengaluru FC in 2016 and then had a brief stint at Penang FC of Malaysia before taking charge of Indian Super League side on an interim basis in 2018.
Returning to India after three years, Westwood said Punjab FC aims to inspire young people of the state with the performances of the club.
"(We) aim to inspire young people with our performances and style of play ... providing a genuine platform that the children and youth of Punjab look up to, are inspired by, and that helps nurture their dreams of becoming sportspersons."
Punjab FC's pre-season training began in October and the team has been in Kolkata since, with the players and support staff being housed in a bio-secure environment.
“Pre-season has been good. It's a new team and the more time we spend with each other, the better it is. Living and working together day in and day out, helps bring the team together and allows us to find out more about one another.
"Another benefit of being together is that we can focus on football, as there are no distractions, and we can control the environment. We are trying to keep things challenging for the players and, at the same time, ensure that it is not monotonous,” Westwood signed off.
This year's I-League will be played in three venues in and around Kolkata.
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