Indians eye another victory

Koevermans' U-23 side takes on Pakistan in second friendly today

Indians eye another victory

Realising that you need to improve is half the battle won and India’s national football coach, Wim Koevermans, spoke about the need to ‘finetune’ his side before they begin their campaign at the Asian Games, which commences in exactly a month in Incheon, South Korea. 

The Indian under-23 team has played six friendlies and with three more to go – the latest being the second in a two-match series against their Pakistani counterparts here at the Bangalore Football Stadium on Wednesday – Koevermans has little time to tweak his formation and his best eleven. 

His more immediate attention is on the match and he did say that he wants to win it. “We will look for a win, as simple as that.

“We are still improving, so we have to finetune a few things and I’m glad that we have the game tomorrow to do that,” he said. 

A notable aspect in the first friendly on Sunday, which India won 1-0, was the lack of substitutions and when asked why, Koevermans spoke about the need to build the strongest team. “We have to make sure that the automatic behaviour between players is growing. So I’m not preferring it at the moment.

“The closer you get to the Asian Games, you have to build your strongest team,” he noted.

While Koevermans did not reveal who will start in place of the suspended Robin Singh, he does have a few options. Pune FC’s Thongkhosiem Haokip, who’s more than adept at playing as a second striker or in midfield, might get the nod over Alwyn George, a No. 10 in the classic mould. 

Midfielder Lalrindika Ralte, who was one of the better players on view in a largely one-dimensional Indian performance, is expected to retain his place in central midfield.

Understandably the onus will again be on Chhetri to be on the score sheet given his status in the side but the overdependence on him will be a cause of worry.  He has been in prolific form over the last month and a half but the other players need to step up to the plate but Koevermans remained calm.  “That’s one of the reasons why we took him in, he scores goals. 

“But he is not the only one who gets chances. Hopefully they will succeed in scoring goals as well.” 

With India embarking on a short tour of China after this fixture, Koevermans does have the leeway of experimenting but time is running out and fast.

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