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

Indian National Team finally lands in Muscat for World Cup qualifier

Indian National Team
Indian National Team

Photo courtesy: AIFF Media

The Indian National Team landed safely at the Seeb International Airport in Muscat, Oman at 2am on Sunday (October 11, 2015), a delay of over 26 hours from the scheduled time they were supposed to arrive in Muscat.

The entire journey time, however, was much more. Putting together the waiting time at the Airport, going back to a Hotel from the Ashbagat Airport and coming back, waiting again at the Airport, the transit time in Dubai and the different time zones through which the team travelled, it was almost 40 hours.

As per the itinerary, however, it was a scheduled travel time of three hours with the waiting (including the transit) around five hours.

The Indian contingent which was left stranded in Turkmenistan capital due to non arrival of the incoming flight courtesy bad weather was originally scheduled to board a 5.30pm flight on October 9 from Ashbabat. It eventually took off for Dubai the next day, i.e. October 10 (Sunday) at 9.35pm.

What was worse that till Sunday evening none was sure as to whether the flight would at all arrive. The contingent slept, chatted, watched movies on laptop, played board games, listened to songs and slept again at the Terminal.

The waiting was frustrating and had a toll on all, both mentally and physically. So much so that whistles and claps greeted the announcement once the flight landed.

The entire development caused utter discomfort and the players looked visibly tired, a fact that worries National Coach Stephen Constantine.

“We have already lost two precious days something which we can’t afford to do at the moment,” National Coach Stephen Constantine told AIFF Media on its social media channels.

“We had planned for four training sessions in Muscat for which we had an understanding with the Oman FA. But now we have to be content with a couple,” he mentioned.

“It has been a long wait. Finally we are here.”

In total, the Indian team have been able to get six hours of training on the pitch for the two World Cup Qualifying matches against Turkmenistan and Oman respectively.

Constantine’s sentiments were echoed by goalkeeper Subrata Paul. “We are not in a position where we can afford to lose practice sessions. We need to settle down fast,” he told AIFF Media.

Defender Arnab Mondal preferred to look ahead. “We were helpless because the entire rescheduling happened due to the non arrival of the incoming flight, that too because of bad weather,” he stated.

“We need to focus on the next job. It’s hard when you have your practice sessions curtailed. Now we need to make the most out of what we have,” he added.

With breakfast on Sunday being optional, most of the members preferred to take rest and assembled together for lunch. Meanwhile, the first of the two practice sessions is scheduled for the evening.

(Report & Photo courtesy AIFF Media)