Star striker Sunil Chhetri will remain the Indian national team captain. The decision was announced by new India coach Wim Koevermans after the evening practice session at the Jaypee Greens ground on Monday.
Sunil led the Indian team at the 2011 SAFF Championship for the first time and the Sporting Clube de Portugal star will continue in the same capacity in the upcoming 2012 Nehru Cup.
“It’s a huge honour to lead the country,” Sunil told after Koevermans’ announcement. “This edition of the Nehru Cup is a special one as it is being organized in the Platinum Jubilee Year of the AIFF. Captaining one’s country, that too in the capital city of your own country is a huge prize for any player.”
“At the same time it’s an extra burden as you cannot ever shy away from the responsibility,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Indian team is looking forward to kick-off the Nehru Cup against Syria on Wednesday and the players are aware of the pressure on them.
“It’s up to us to keep the tradition alive in the Nehru Cup. The coach has been working hard and pinning a lot of hopes on us. We cannot let him and our country down,” midfielder Mehtab Hossain told.
“This is a new generation. I’ve been lucky enough to have played and learnt a lot from the likes of Baichung, Mahesh, Deepak and Climax,” star defender Gouramangi Moirangthem Singh said. “But every step is a learning one and despite being a senior, you get to update yourself when a younger bunch pushes you on the field.”
Midfielder Clifford Miranda was quick to add that “Every match will be a tough one for us. We need to keep up the momentum. The practice sessions have been informative.”
The 2012 Nehru Cup will see various youngsters turning out for the senior team for the very first time. India U-22 striker Manandeep Singh is one of the talented youngsters in the team and he sums it up perfectly: “It’s a dream come true for me.”
“When I was earlier in Goa with the age-group teams, we used to watch the Nehru Cup on television. Today, my hard work has paid off and I’m in the final squad. But I know, there’s a lot of scope for improvement,” Manandeep told.
The Indian national team will face Syria in the opening match on Wednesday. The match is scheduled to kick-off at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium at 19.00 IST / 15.30 CET / 14.30 GMT.
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