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

“Professional” Indians toil hard to accomplish Mission Macau

Indian national team (Photo courtesy: AIFF Media)

There are tall skyscrapers, the sea and skyscrapers again. From a distance you spot the flyovers or rather the bridges over one section of the sea, acting as the connector between two lands (islands) separated by the sea.

There’s a belief in Macau that man can connect everything which hasn’t been connected by nature, and almost everyone mentions of the ‘impossible project’ of the Hong Kong Zhuhai Bridge of which some 35 km will span over the sea.

Team India, caught in between the fluctuating weather of rain, humidity and a bit of hard-earned sunlight in Macau toils hard to connect their dreams to reality. A day prior, a sneak peek into the Team Camp makes you aware of their attitude: ‘Karenge ya Marenge.’

“2019 isn’t far and we have to be there.”

National Coach Stephen Constantine, however, is cautious. “I feel Macau were a bit unlucky against the Kyrgyz Republic,” he mentions. “But we are here to play our game and we need to concentrate on ourselves,” he declares. “It’s true that we are at the top of the table at the moment but we need to work harder if we are to stay there,” he warns.

India have won both their matches in Group A so far by solitary goal margins, both match-winners against Myanmar (away) and the Kyrgyz Republic coming from the ‘Clinical Captain.’

As the bus travels by the sea, the boys peep out. Barely a week after Typhoon Hato hit the city, uprooted trees, broken window panes, blown away railings, lie around. There’s devastation, there’s sorrow.

The Indian dressing room, nevertheless, is a happy one. There’s intense competition among all for a berth in the playing XI but the bench is always backing the XI. That has added to the confidence and the camaraderie among all; unity followed.

“It’s not about who plays on the field. We all are playing for a cause,” he informs. “It’s Mission Macau,” he gestures with his clenched fists. And it’s not just him. Ask any player or any support staff for that matter, all have been working tirelessly as a ‘Team’ to achieve the mission.

Captain Sunil Chhetri adds: “We are a confident group. We are confident of our abilities. But we are not judging Macau by what happened to them in their last two matches. It’s a fresh match, and we start afresh.”

Playing an away match comes with its own set of burdens. The food is not what one is used to, there’s always the language barrier, getting used to the time difference of two and a half hours isn’t that easy in three days – but all of that doesn’t deter the men on the mission. Missions are always accomplished under hardships, it’s never served to you on a platter.

Post-Typhoon Hato, there are still black clouds overhead, and they threaten to deliver at any moment. It has been raining non-stop since Sunday (September 3, 2017) evening. But courtesy the drainage system of the city, there’s not a single place stays waterlogged, and so is the turf. It’s lush green, with magnificent buildings overlooking it from all sides.

“We are used to the rain. It was raining even in Bangalore and Mumbai. We are professionals and as professionals, we need to adjust to the weather,” Chhetri states.

In International Football, acclimatisation holds the key, doesn’t it? For a Team who has made all fans dream back home with their away match record in the last few months, the dream continues – the Asian Dream, to move closer to that coveted Championship. It’s all about Mission Macau and those 90 minutes.

The kick-off on September 5, 2017 is at 17.00 IST. The match will be telecast live on Star Sports 1, Star Sports HD 1 and it’ll b streamed live on Hotstar and Jio TV.

(AIFF Media)