THE BLOG BY CPD FOOTBALL | The World of Indian football and beyond by Chris Punnakkattu Daniel

Subrata Pal to lead India against Qatar

Subrata Pal

Subrata Pal

It’s the Al Sadd again. Barely 28 days after India played Qatar in the Pre-Olympic Qualifiers at Old Trafford’s replica; the Al Sadd Sports Club is all set to welcome the Indian Team once again. The sole difference stays it’s the Senior India team which will take centre stage this time.

The match on Sunday, an international friendly, all in preparation for India’s World Cup Qualifier against UAE on July 23 is the second friendly in a span of seven days for Team India’s new Coach Armando Colaco.

“A lot has to be done and achieved in three weeks of training. But I’m happy the manner we played our first match against Maldives,” Armando told “I’d request all to go through the recording of the match and judge the manner the boys played,” he added.

“However, there’s no denying there’s a lot to be done; achieved.”

Apart from the tactical changes which Armando insists “will be seen on the field,” the most significant change stays in the rotation of the armband as after a gap of 25 years, a goalkeeper will lead India once again. Against Qatar at the Al Sadd, Subrata Pal, one of Team India’s most consistent performers in recent times, has been named as the captain.

This is the first time a goalkeeper will lead India since Atanu Bhattacharya captained India in the Nehru Cup in Trivandrum in 1986.

“On one side it’s just another match in the life of a footballer. On the other side, it’s an honour which every player dreams of – an inspiration to do better,” Pal said. “My dream to is to serve my country to the best of my abilities and as long as possible,” he added.

Armando who has insisted on having different captains for different matches has been “moulding different types of characters into one playing unit.”

“There are a lot of promising players in the squad. Initially it was a bit difficult but the boys are adapting to my style of play. Football is all about enjoying on the field,” Armando insisted.

“This is our last match before the big test – the World Cup Qualifier against UAE. I want to take one match at a time but at the same time wouldn’t mind trying out some variations against Qatar,” Armando concluded.

The kick-off is slated for 9pm IST.

(AIFF Press Release)