By Nilanjan Datta,
AIFF Media Team
KATHMANDU: Life in the International Football circuit travels fast -- in fact, very fast. It seemed only some hours back that the first International Friendly got over, and here you are – the second International Friendly is already knocking at the door. The ability to accelerate the recovery process, acclimatize your mind frame – all in an effort to lift your game makes the FIFA windows special. There’s not much time in hand – barely 72 hours in between.
“The mood is positive and our boys are aware that they can do much better,” informs Head Coach Igor Stimac. “Of course, we are still short with the energy level because we are just at the end of the second week of preparation, and the legs are still heavy. But, they are looking forward to putting in a better performance,” he adds.
On match day plus one, i.e., on September 3 (Friday) efforts, and plans of the recovery-cum-practice session got cancelled owing to a downpour. “We are going to change a few things, and see if that can help us in terms of passing with more confidence, and getting forward easier,” Stimac informs.
The musical ambience of the team hotel stays the most striking feature -- the Bluetooth speakers from the player’s rooms are loud. With almost every room playing regional folk, you get to dive deep to discover the musical spirit of India, the depth of Incredible India’s folk music. You tap your feet at times, hum at times.
With not many radiation towers around, there’s a flurry of birds that greet you every morning. Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, leaning back on his chair is all engrossed in a book – ‘The Bhagat Singh Reader’ by Chaman Lal.
“All the letters, essays, notes that Bhagat Singh-ji has brought out. It’s an honour to know about the Great Man who was much beyond a normal citizen and a freedom fighter. He was a pathfinder, innovator and wave creator who had so much knowledge at such a young age. I am just envious about his mentality, and how his mind looked at the world, and I want to do the same,” he avers.
“The game was a tough one and Nepal were very organised. We had moments where we could have done better as a team, and there were moments where we did get better. We need to make sure that we have a strong mentality going into the second and not give anything to a team who is looking for something all the fit. We need to make sure that we use it to prepare for the SAFF Championship in good order.”
The goal-scorer of the other day Anirudh Thapa was limping till the other night after having suffered a knock above his ankle. “But I am fine now,” assures Anirudh, who was part of the victorious India U-15 National Team winning the SAFF title in Kathmandu some years back.
“I have been working on my short sprints, especially my start. That allowed me to connect the ball ahead of my marker, and even goalkeeper Kiran-bhai (Kiran Limbu),” he explains. “We were much better in the second half in the first match and wished the match could have continued for some more time for us to find the winner. As it kicks off tomorrow (September 5), we look ahead to a continuation, and manner we played in the second half,” Anirudh quips.
The second International Friendly match at the Dasharath Stadium, Kathmandu kicks off tomorrow (Sunday, September 5) at IST 5.15 pm, and the match will be streamed live on Indian Football Team’s official Facebook page @TheIndianFootballTeam.