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

India gear up to take on Bangladesh

India v Bangladesh - Pre-Match Press Conference

India v Bangladesh - Pre-Match Press Conference

Barely a month back, Dhanmondi, the Club from Bangladesh made it to the Final of the IFA Shield only to lose in sudden death. On their way to the Final, they had accounted for two Airtel I-League outfits, East Bengal and Mohun Bagan.

A day ahead of India’s international friendly against Bangladesh, national coach Wim Koevermans uttered: “We are not underestimating Bangladesh. We respect every opposition we play and we will respect them too.” The last time the two teams met in the 2013 SAFF Championship in Kathmandu, India pulled one back in injury time through a Sunil Chhetri free-kick to hold Bangladesh 1-1.

The setting of the newly renovated Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Fatorda is picturesque. Bangladesh’s national team captain Md. Mamulun Islam Mamun pointed it and said: “It’s looks so nice. The ground is being watered and is lush green. The stands look so beautiful.”

“We are here to play some good football. This international friendly will further strengthen the bilateral relations between the two countries. We need more such matches,” he further informed.

“We want to win tomorrow. We need to take our chances and hope for a good result. We know what to expect from a well organised team as India,” Bangladesh’s Dutch coach Lodewijk de Kruif said at the official pre-match press conference.

“We want to play the manner India plays. This will be out first international friendly since the 2013 SAFF Championship in Kathmandu. India are a very good opponent and we are happy to be here,” de Kruif quiped.

“Our squad is a conglomeration of youth and experience. There’s an U-18 player, an U-19 player and even an U-20 player. At the same time, we have someone who is 34.”

National coach Wim Koevermans reflects back on the match which ended 1-1 in Kathmandu. “It was a bit frustrating for Bangladesh as we equalised through a wonderful free-kick in the 93rd minute. We expect a hugely competitive game tomorrow. We want to win,” Koevermans stated.

“A few boys came into our squad for the back-to-back international friendlies in November in Siliguri and they did well. This time too, we have a couple of new faces in our 20-member squad. The stadium looks wonderful and we look forward to a good turnout.”

For the record, the 20-member Indian squad boasts of four U-23 players.

National team captain Sunil Chhetri said “he was looking forward to the match.”

“The mood in the camp is very positive. There are a lot of very talented youngsters in our squad at the moment. However, you always need to give time for them to settle down. All of them are willing to learn and improve themselves. I urge all the passionate football fans of Goa to rally behind us,” Chhetri, the highest-ever Indian goalscorer in international football at the moment with 43 goals, pronounced.

Chhetri maintained it’s all about translating the “practice sessions into the match.”

“Unless we are able to do it, everything may go waste. It’s about meeting the standards and demands of the coach. We need to stick to his instructions and carry over the high intensity practice session onto the match,” Chhetri maintained.

In a response to a question as to how many Goan footballers would be fielded for the match, Koevermans smiled and answered: “It’s the national team of India. Players are never selected on basis of the region or club or state. It’s about eleven players wearing the blue shirt on the field.”

“The players headed into the camp from their Airtel I-League commitments and there are no injury concerns at the moment. Players who have been consistent with their clubs have been rewarded with a call-up. But you need to know that international football is played at a much higher-tempo. It’s an entirely different set-up.”

The kick-off at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Fatorda on March 5 is at 18.00 IST (13.30 CET / 12.30 GMT). The match would be telecast live on Ten Action.

A LIVE STREAMING of the INDIA v BANGLADESH match will be available here at!

(Report & Picture courtesy AIFF Media)