DPS Sharjah coach Vikram Dutt admits his players have already “proved him wrong” by reaching the Under-17 ADIB NSL final and says there’s no reason why they can’t upset Our Own Zenith.
The two Sharjah teams clash at the iconic Sharjah Cricket Stadium for the championship decider on Saturday with both already tasting success in the competition.
For DPS, having become the first-ever U-15 champions in 2014-15, they were unable to defend their title after the majority of their winning squad left the school.
That paved the way for Zenith to claim their first crown last season.
Now with a squad of new faces, Dutt has seen his team make huge progress on their way to the final and admits he never imagined his boys would be one win away from standing top of their class.
“I lost 10 of my main players from my last squad which won the title,” he said.
“They either left the school or the country with their family for personal reasons.
“I had to bring in the boys from the Under-13 side to form a team and I told them to prove me wrong and qualify for the final. They’ve certainly done that and I’m shocked we are here.
“That is credit to my players because they’ve worked hard throughout the tournament.”
DPS’ only defeat in this competition has come in the hands of Zenith in the group stage.
But Dutt believes that game will have no mentality effect on his players and hopes his captain Devnath Menon can rise to the occasion.
“It’s one game. One side has to win, one side has to lose. Even if we lose, I want them to go out there fighting and give them their best. That’s all I want.
“Menon hasn’t been firing but if he starts firing, things will be easier and I hope he and the rest of my team can do well.”
For Zenith captain Niel Lobo, his team has shown why they are U-15 champions with some impressive performances so far.
But the 15-year-old all-rounder is wary of the opposition, saying they have players who can do the damage if they get going.“Hardik Pai and batsman Devnath Menon are two very strong players for them,” he said.
“We played them before, but it’s a different game. That was at the beginning of the tournament and since then we have grown as a team which has made us more united and stronger.”
He added: “We are definitely going to go out there and give our maximum effort on the field. We all want to retain our trophy for the second year in a row.”
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