As one gears up for India’s International Friendly against Cambodia in Phnom Penh, you cannot keep your eyes off the history book. A trip down the memory lane, quite blatantly points out that India last won an away International Friendly way back in June 2005 – a solitary goal victory against Pakistan, a side which was captained by present Team Manager Shanmugam Venkatesh.
For the normal fan, there’s no escaping the harsh reality, it stays natural. But the turf at Phnom Penh, National Coach Stephen Constantine informs “is an artificial one.” It certainly is a concern but doesn’t trouble the Coach much.
“We will be playing on an artificial turf. We would have preferred to play on grass. But we need to adjust. It is a very important match for us ahead of the crucial match against Myanmar in the AFC Cup Qualifiers. I thank AIFF for arranging the same,” he said.
“There are four to five players who are carrying slight niggles so I haven’t yet decided on the starting eleven. Let me see what suits us best,” the Coach stated. “The weather conditions in Phnom Penh are quite similar to that in Yangon and it will be a good test for us.”
For the record, goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu will be leading the side on Wednesday (March 22, 2017), his second consecutive match as the National Team captain, after India’s 4-1 mauling of Puerto Rico in last September.
The squad of 24 headed to Phnom Penh after training in Mumbai and though the boys started assembling from March 13th onwards, it was not before March 15th that the entire squad assembled for those “rigorous training sessions.”
“You need international games to develop as a team and the AIFF has confirmed International Friendlies until October which is very positive. The more you play the more team chemistry you develop and the more the players gel,” Constantine maintained.
Gurpreet who was present at the pre-match press conference said: “The facilities here are good. We are practicing hard and hope to end on a positive note.”
“There is a very healthy competition to get into the starting eleven. It is a huge honour to get selected for India and the players understand that. The philosophy in the team stays that there are no guarantees for anyone and you need to work hard to stay in the squad and work harder to get into the starting eleven.”
The harsh reality of history hits you hard on your face. Can India rescript it?
The kick-off on March 22 (Wednesday) is at 17.00 IST.
(Report & Photo courtesy: AIFF Media)