ISL has created a buzz, Pires will leave a mark: Arthur Papas

FC Goa assistant coach Arthur Papas along with manager and chief coach Zico during a training session at Tilak Maidan

Panaji October 2014: Football has finally begun to excite Indian audiences thanks to the buzz surrounding the Indian Super League (ISL) according to FC Goa assistant coach Arthur Papas, who also claims that marquee players like Roberto Pires would leave an indelible legacy on impressionable Indian footballers even after they leave.

Assistant Coach, Arthur Pappas during a training session for FC Goa

Assistant Coach, Arthur Pappas during a training session for FC Goa

Australian coach Papas, who moved to India two years ago on a coaching stint also said that it was a treat to watch the legendary Zico at work and that Arsenal’s Andre Santos was a player to look out for during the three-month tourney.

“I’ve been in this country for two and a half years playing in national leagues and I-League, but I haven’t felt this sense of excitement about a competition before. We haven’t had the most time to prepare as a team but there’s a lot of excitement on the part of the team and we really want to go on the field and put a really good performance for Goa,” he said.

The buzz he says is a good sign, but having stadiums full of football lovers actually watching the game is the necessary icing on the cake.

“I just want to see a packed stadium and people supporting the team no matter what. That’s what happened at the opening match. That’s probably what is lacking at the I-League because we have really good teams playing but large crowds don’t turn up. I want to see Indian football to be able to keep going on. A packed stadium will improve the product you see on TV all around the world, not just in India,” he explained.

Asked about his experience working as an assistant to a legend like Zico, Papas described the Brazilian master as someone who is humble, despite his experience as both player and coach.

“I really appreciate the kind of effort he is putting in to try and make the team successful. There are a lot of things from the management point of view too which includes the day to day running of how he deals with the owners and how he deals with the players. I feel privileged to learn from someone who has dealt with bigger clubs before and has been in the spotlight pretty much all his life,” Papas said.

Speaking about Zico’s work ethic, Papas said: “On the field, his philosophy is that he wants the team to play an attractive style of football. He wants us to keep the ball on the ground, pass and move; at the same time, try to play proactive and forward as much as possible. We still have a few more players coming in and joining the team, so when we all practice together, we will have a better understanding of technically where we fit”.

As far as players go, Papas said that with the first game just two weeks away, every player “is at a stage here where they’re all trying to impress”. But he marks out former Arsenal left back and Brazilian Andre Santos as the player to look out for. “Andre Santos is at a good age and plays a good game so I’m really excited to see what a player of his calibre can bring to the team,” he said.

The other Arsenal player in the team, veteran French international Roberto Pires is the consummate professional according to Papas and a real joy to work with.“He’s a team member and he’s come here to try and help us be successful. He’s got so much experience on and off the field. One can tell that he’s a very humble person and is here to try and help a lot of the Indian players. He’s a classic whether he is on or off the feild and you still see that there’s a quality in his first touch and the way he’s always looking to play and perform better even in this stage in his career,” Papas said.

And the contributions made by the 40-year-old attacking midfielder and marquee midfielder, he said, will be felt by Indian footballers much after he leaves India. “He’s experienced football at the highest level possible, internationally and club wise. Even while interacting with young players from the Dempo team, he talks to them about his journey in his football career and that professionalism is something that we haven’t seen in this country. It’s something that you need to tap into as much as possible. When Pires leaves India, there will be a long lasting legacy left behind,” Papas said.

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