The Indian national team will kick-off the 2012 Nehru Cup against rivals Syria at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium later today. The defending champions and hosts will be seen in action after a long break from international football.
Wim Koevermans has taken over the reins at the helm of the Indian team, and the Nehru Cup will be the first assignment for the Dutch coach. Koevermans has drilled his new team in a three-week long preparation camp in Bangalore and at the Jaypee Greens in Greater Noida and the Dutchman has tried to implement a new system during the camp.
The Indian squad, led by Sporting Clube de Portugal striker Sunil Chhetri, has adapted well to the new system focusing on passing and possession, but it will take some time to reach a high level of perfection.
“The sport is all about the ball. You keep possession, you stay in control. You lose possession, you need to gain it back fast so that you stay in control,” said Koevermans, “the practice sessions have been enough testimony to that.”
“But you need to be patient,” quips skipper Chhetri. “In every sphere of life, you ought to be. Adaptaion to the new style under a new Coach needs patience. Just because of the new setup, you can’t expect miracles.”
Koevermans has analyzed India’s first opponent in detail and has also incorporated a video analyst to the Indian team’s set-up. However, he does acknowledge that videography can only get a team so far.
“When you study a team via a video, it doesn’t give you an impression of their off the ball movements,” the Dutchman pointed out.
Skipper Sunil Chhetri has a clear idea of the Syrians: “Syria are one of the best teams in Asia!”
“Just because we beat them in the last two editions of the Nehru Cup doesn’t mean the trend will continue,” Sunil warned. “But we want it to!”
“I urge all the fans to be behind us when we take the field at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium,” Sunil made an appeal directed to all Indian fans.
India won their last edition of the Nehru Cup in 2009, in a spectacular final against Syria at the Ambedkar Stadium. India’s star keeper Subrata Pal turned out to be the hero of the match back then, when he clinched the trophy with several saves in the penalty shoot-out.
Sunil, Subrata and company are now back in action and they are eager to secure the Nehru Cup hat-trick for the Indian national team. Syria will be the first major test in the mission to glory, but the Indian team has the confidence to go a long way in the competition.
The India v Syria match will kick-off at 19.00 IST / 15.30 CET / 14.30 GMT.