Kathmandu, Sept 7 (IBNS) The Indian National Team had an intense practice session at the Police Headquarters Ground on Saturday (September 7) morning. India play Maldives in the second semifinal of the 2013 SAFF Championship on Monday (September 9).
National Coach Wim Koevermans stressed on the importance of recovery of Players in such a hectic schedule. "It's a difficult schedule," he reiterated. "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.
Koevermans did watch Maldives play Afghanistan in the Final Group B League match the previous day. "Yeah, I watched Maldives for 90 minutes. They are a tough unit," he pronounced.
The last two outings for India against Maldives have been fruitful. "But that is past. We need to lie in the present," Koevermans quipped. "We don´t underestimat any Team and won't ever underestimate any."
Referring to comments of the Maldives' captain Ali Ashfaq that this is the "weakest Indian Team ever," Koevermans smiled. "Everyone had labeled 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.
Central Defender Sandesh Jhingan said it is a "learning experience" for him to be together in a squad along with Senior Players.
"Some Years back when I watched on Television I was in awe of Gouramangi, Subrata, Chhetri and others. Now I have worked hard to earn my place in the squad. Seeing them from close is a learning experience for me. At the same time, I have to keep myself ready whenever the Coach wants me," he said.
Former India U-23 Captain Raju Gaikwad, felt that Sunil missing the semifinal 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," he stated.
(Image courtesy: AIFF)