'Won't take Maldives lightly'
They may have tasted success in their their last two outings against Maldives, but Indian football team coach Wim Koevermans said they would not be underestimating the islanders ahead of their SAFF semifinal clash.
“That is past. We need to lie in the present. We don’t underestimate any team and won’t ever underestimate any,” Koevermans said.
The Dutchman stressed on the importance of recovery of players in such a hectic schedule.
“It’s a difficult schedule. But I’m still not happy with the quality of the practice ground,” he said at the official media interaction.
“Everyone is available for the semifinal against Maldives,” he added. The Indian team had an intense practice session at the Police Headquarters Ground on Saturday morning.
India play Maldives in the second semifinal on Monday.
Koevermans did watch Maldives play Afghanistan in the final Group B league match on Friday. “Yeah, I watched Maldives for 90 minutes. They are a tough unit,” he said.
Referring to comments of the Maldives’ captain Ali Ashfaq that this is the ‘weakest Indian team ever’, Koevermans said: “Everyone had labelled our group as the Group of Death. There were no easy teams in our group. And now we are in the semis. I hope they underestimate us.”
“We need to be ready for Maldives and are preparing ourselves,” he maintained.
Former India U-23 captain Raju Gaikwad felt that Sunil Chhetri missing the semifinal (due to double bookings) won’t prove to be decisive.
“There are two ways of looking at it. It’s a big motivation for others to rise to the occasion. We are fit and raring to go for the semifinal,” Gaikwad said.