The Indian football team's fortunes in the upcoming Asian Cup will depend a lot on its opening match against Thailand and it should go all out to get a result, feels former player Renedy Singh.
"We have to go all-out against Thailand in the first match. Do not think about UAE, do not think about Bahrain. Just go after the result in the first game," Renedy, who was a key member of the Indian team that played in the 2011 Asian Cup in Doha, said.
"Only after the match we can decide on the next course of action. If they can get a result against China, we should be able to do the same against Thailand," the former midfielder told the official website of the All India Football Federation.
The Asian Cup is being held in four venues of the United Arab Emirates from January 5 to February 1. India has been clubbed with Thailand, Bahrain and hosts UAE in Group A. India play Thailand on January 6, UAE on January 10 and Bahrain on January 14.
When India played last time in the Asian Cup in 2011, the team lost all their group matches (against Australia, South Korea and Bahrain). Skipper Sunil Chhetri is the only current player to feature in that team.
Renedy, a dead ball specialist of the Indian team then, said that Chhetri has been leading the current side by example.
"There are many players who have been doing well recently. But for me, Sunil sets the best example. He has done so well consistently over the past few years. He may not be growing younger, but most significantly, he's not just there to support. He is there to lead by example," the 39-year-old Renedy said.
He also feels that Chhetri has improved a lot as a dead-ball player and disclosed how the current skipper became one of the set-piece takers in the team.
"It's good to see that Sunil has improved as a dead-ball player. Back in our days, he never used to take free-kicks -- it was either me or Steven Dias," Renedy recollected.
"But then one fine day, he walked up to me and said, 'Renedy-bhai, you can't take both free-kicks and penalties. I want to chip in too. So we decided that Sunil will take penalties, and we would continue taking the free-kicks," said Renedy who also had captained the Indian team on a few occasions.
"But he did not stay content with the penalties. Rather, he improved himself as a free-kick taker. In fact, he has scored from many free-kicks since then."