Bhutia ready for his swansong against Bayern

Last Updated: Tue, Jan 10, 2012 09:11 hrs

New Delhi, Jan 10 (IBNS) Former India captain Bhaichung Bhutia will don the captain's arm band for the last time as he leads the national team against a star-studded Bayern Munich for his farewell match at the Jawharlal Nehru Stadium here Tuesday.

Bhutia, who retired last August after being frustrated with injuries, wants to last the 90 minutes for the final time in his career but questions over his fitness persist. Will he last the entire duration of the match or won´t he as the curtains come down the career of India´s most successful professional footballer.

The last time Bhutia donned the No 15 jersey was in January 2011, when he featured for only 15 minutes against South Korea in an Asian Cup match in Doha.

This time he admitted that fitness is not on his side, but mentally he is geared up for a life time opportunity for the national tea, which he had led for the last 10 years.

The match will see a bevy of international stars such as Philipp Lahm, Arjen Robben, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Thomas Mueller and Mario Gomez in the Bayern Munich ranks.

Some 20 years ago, a similar heavy weight Dutch side PSV Eidenhoven crushed the Indian team 0-7 at the same venue. This time also a similar scoreline is very much expected with Bayern bringing their first team after their week-long winter training camp in Doha. Bayern have won the Bundesliga 22 times and the UEFA Champions League four times.

But this is one of those matches where results don't really matter. As Sunil Chhetri - expected to take over the mantle from his skipper - said, it will be Bhutia's night, no matter who is playing opposite them.

Chhetri, who has an injured ankle, won't be a part of the match.

"The last time we played together in the Asian Cup against South Korea, I always felt we would be playing together again for the national team. But the situation is different now. My heart will stay on the field but I would be cheering from the stands," Chhetri said.

Chhetri's absence will be youngster Jeje Lalpekhklua's gain. The 20-year-old will partner Bhutia for the first, and the only, time in his career.

"I feel fortunate to partner him. Though it's a pity it will be the only time," said Jeje.

Bhutia said the match would be an opportunity for the Indian players to what it takes to be the best in the world.

"You cannot compare the Indian team with Bayern, which is as good as the German national side. But it's an opportunity for the players to know how much they need to work on to take themselves to level of top international stars," he said. "For me, it is just about enjoying my last match and enjoying the moment," he added.

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