Bala Alhassan (left, number 10)
By Shraishth Jain
AIFF Media Team

NEW DELHI: With 14 points in seven matches, Garhwal FC stood atop the Hero 2nd Division League last season and their captain Bala Alhassan Dahir sounded a confident figure as he spoke about his team’s chances in the Hero I-League qualifier 2020, which will see the side from Delhi face off against four other teams — Mohammedan SC, Bhawanipore FC, ARA FC and FC Bengaluru United — for a direct place in the Hero I-League 2020-21.

“I strongly believe in our team and in our coach. The way we have been training, we can get what we want in this tournament. We have to make the most of the capabilities of our team. We are confident of qualifying,” he told

The veteran midfielder, who hails from Nigeria had played in all of his team’s matches in last season’s Hero 2nd Division League.

“We are working very hard in our preparation. We are more or less the same team from last season. Since we resumed training, the coach has worked hard on our fitness and the boys are getting in shape. The team is shaping up well and preparing for the fight,” he quipped.

With the team consisting of a number of young players, Bala spoke about his responsibility of “motivating” the boys and instilling a sense of confidence in them, while focussing on the team’s “understanding.”


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“As captain, I motivate and push the boys. This club is like my home and I firmly believe in my boys. They are young players but there is not much difference from the others. It is the understanding in the team that matters most and I feel we understand each other well. We are ready to go there and fight. It’s a great chance and we can’t afford to miss it!” he exclaimed.

Garhwal FC kicked-off their qualifying campaign against Kolkata-based side Mohammedan SC at the Kalyani Stadium and according to Bala, the team’s discipline will help the unit rise to the occasion on the pitch.

“One of the most important things in football is discipline. The boys are extremely disciplined, ready to learn and ready to improve. Having played in Kolkata before, I encourage the boys to not be tense about facing teams like Mohammedan Sporting and Bhawanipore FC, and tell them that there is no difference between them and us. I know that once the day comes, we can come together and do well.”

The midfielder, who has played for numerous clubs across India in the last few years, also talked about how better facilities have helped the team become stronger.

“We have very good coaches and great facilities. We get good food, good training and adequate rest. As a result, the system of our play has also improved a lot,” he averred.