'Mentally ready for Bayern'

'Mentally ready for Bayern'

Unfit Bhutia hope to last entire 90 minutes

Bhaichung Bhutia. File Photo Bhaichung Bhu­itia will don India colours one last time on Tuesday, and the old guard of Indian football is understandably emotional about it.

His farewell match, even if only an exhibition clash, is against premier German side Bayern Munich, and the former India captain said he would do his best to last the full 90 minutes. 

Bhutia admitted that he is not in top shape to play against an international side like Bayern, but said felt mentally ready to take on the challenge of playing Bayern at the Jawaharlal Nehru .

“It is a great honour for me. I am mentally prepared. But I am not 100 percent fit in terms of the physical fitness required to play against a top international side like Bayern Munich. But I will give it my best shot,” Bhutia said after the team’s practice session at the Ambedkar stadium on Sunday.

“I want to play the full 90 minutes . The injury I had suffered is such that it can occur anytime. I hope I don't get injured and last the length of the match.”

The 35-year-old striker, who retired last year, said he was looking forward to play against the likes of Arjen Robben, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Thomas Muller. He stressed that the match provided the Indian footballers a good opportunity to gauge themselves against top international players.

"You cannot compare the Indian team with Bayern Munich. But it's a good opportunity and experience for the young players to play with such great players and a great team.
"We want to do well. It is my last match and I am just enjoying the moment. I feel honoured to play my farewell match against a top side like Bayern Munich,” said Bhutia, whose priority now is making his club United Sikkim a successful commercial entity.

Indian coach Savio Medeira praised the All India Football Federation (AIFF) for organising a match against Bayern as Bhutia's farewell outing. He also called Bhutia an ideal role model for young footballers.

"It is a great gesture from the federation to give a grand farewell to Bhaichung, who has done a lot for Indian football," he said.

Medeira said the match provided the opportunity of a lifetime for youngsters. “It is a lifetime opportunity for the youngsters. We cannot compare the level of fitness of the two teams. We cannot afford to commit any mistakes against them. The boys will give 100 percent.”

Medeira said the Indian side needed more such friendlies before the AFC Challenge Cup in March.  The proceeds from this match will go to the earthquake-affected people in Sikkim,  which is Bhutia's home state. Bayern Munich, who are training in Doha, will reach here on Monday.

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