Dhaka, Mar 26 : It’s Mar 26 and it’s Bangladesh’s Independence Day. The sense of history, the two Countries being ‘One’ quite many years some back and yet so much inseparable even today despite the International boundary, strike you at every step.
The streets stay empty and for the Indian U-23 Team it comes as a big relief, especially after it took 4 and a half hours to travel to and fro to the Army ground for a practice session the previous evening (March 25), that too for a distance of 8kms one side. The Team just sat in the Bus and waited for it to move, but it didn’t. Frustration, fatigue, helplessness!
A day ahead of India’s opening match of their Group E match of the AFC U-23 AFC Qualifiers Head Coach Savio Medeira, nevertheless, is a patient man.
“We are happy to be here. Uzbekistan and Syria and Bangladesh are all ranked higher than us. But I have full confidence in my boys. If we do our job correctly, on any given day, anything can happen,” he states at the Official pre-match Media Interaction.
The Indians proceeded to the Championship after a Preparatory Camp in Goa. The boys started assembling from March 4 onwards and full practice eventually kicked-off frm March 6 onwards.
Goalkeeper Amrinder Singh declared India’s Captain for the Championship stresses that it would quite an “experience” for India to play against all the three Teams.
“We are taking one match at a time. There’s so little to choose which we would be playing against. We need to concentrate on our job and we will give our best on the field,” he maintains. “Presently we are all focused on Uzbekistan and would be plotting for Syria and Bangladesh as and when we play them.”
For the record at the FIFA ladder, Uzbekistan are ranked 72, Syria 152, Bangladesh 162 and India 173 (as per March 2015).
Besides getting used to the traffic in Dhaka, the practice turfs have also been a deterrent for perfect acclimatization which was intended to by arriving some couple of days earlier as the grounds have been either devoid of grass, bouncy, patchy and hard, or all clubbed together.
“It’s not that the Uzbeks and Syrians are just much more physical; they are also very technical equipped sides,” Medeira insists. “On the field, it’s all about decision making, both on and off the ball. At the end the Team which makes the lesser mistakes will have the last laugh.”
The Indian Camp isn’t all grinning at the moment as some untimely injuries have hit them hard. While Central defender Pawan Kumar was ruled out on the last day prior to the Preparatory Camp in Goa, Sandesh Jhingan’s food poisoning and toe injury have been a further curse.
“Jhingan is most unlikely to recover in time for the first match” Medeira further informs.
“We were unlucky not to have Narayan (Das) and Pronoy (Halder) available for the Camp as they are still under rehab,” Medira chuckles. “Moreover, Brandon (Fernandes) was already carrying an injury and had to be released. But we have made adjustments,” he continues.
The arrival of National Coach Stephen Constantine has been an inspiration for the boys. “I am here as an observer and watch the U-23s play in the Olympic Qualifiers,” he mentioned to www.the-aiff.com.
Referring to the obvious questions as to he would be coaching the Team, Constantine clarified: “Savio (Medeira) is the Coach and the Man in charge for the three games in Dhaka. I will not be coaching the side at all,” a point which he even tweeted from his Official Twitter account @StephenConstan.
Image: AIFF Media