The Senior Indian national team played a friendly match against the Pailan Arrows at the Jaypee Greens in Greater Noida as part of their 2012 Nehru Cup preparations. The Seniors were held to a goalless draw by their juniors with Sunil Chhetri hitting the post off a penalty. It wasn’t about the result, but for both coaches Wim Koevermans and Arthur Papas to test their wards ahead of tougher assignments – the Nehru Cup for the seniors, while the Arrows will participate in the Durand Cup. The new style of possession football, positional play, building from the back was tested by both teams with both coaches said to be happy what they saw.
“We are really working hard to do what the coach wants us to do. It is a new system and it will take time. But we are moving in the right direction,” said Sunil Chhetri.
Sitting next to him Subrata Pal added, “It’s surely a new system. The build-up starts from the goalkeeper an integral part. It feels nice to be at the National Camp after so long.”
Chhetri was all praise for the young Pailan Arrows. “They are a very tough unit. It was a very competitive match. They were not overawed and matched us. We regrouped better in the second half,” he quipped.
Chhetri who signed for Sporting Clube de Portugal a few weeks ago informed the Portuguese stint is helping him to mature further. “There are players from all over Europe in the squad and also from Africa. I am the eldest member in the squad and hence, the responsibility stays higher.”
Subrata Pal, who has also been back from a trial-cum-training stint with RB Leipzig informed the football played “in Germany was much more direct. It was nice to be in an alien environment. They praised my work ethics and that means a lot to me.”
Subrata played the entire 90 minutes while Chhetri was substituted after 45 minutes. If Koevermans stayed on his toes shouting instructions, Arthur Papas, India’s Under-22 and Pailan Arrows coach, made the best use of the opportunity to test his new wards. The Senior Team pressed hard, closing down the gaps, hardly faltering. The Arrows sensed it fast, stretched it to the lines and tried to make inroads.
A competitive match for both sets of players.
Published with permission from Arunava about Football.