Indian players awe-struck by Ibrahimovic unveiling
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Last Updated: Tuesday, July 28, 2009, 20:13
New Delhi: Indian footballers training hard at Barcelona took time out to witness an "awe-inspiring" spectacle -- the unveiling of Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic at the iconic Nou Camp.

The 1.92 metre-tall striker signed for the Catalans from Inter Milan and some Indian players were at hand to witness his unveiling before 50,000 supporters yesterday.

"I have never seen such a spectacle in my life. It was awe-inspiring to witness the passion for football among the people here," India central defender Gouramangi Singh told reporters from Barcelona.

"They (the fans) were roaring like mad. Imagine what would have been the effect when Ronaldo and Kaka were unveiled in Real Madrid," he said.

The Indians, who have been training for nearly 20 days at the ground just outside Nou Camp and in front of Barcelona's La Masia academy, sneaked into the iconic stadium once practice got over but could not have a close view of the Swede star.

Fans had gathered at the stadium hours in advance to see Ibrahimovic's unveiling, who signed a five-year deal with Barcelona on a swap deal with Samuel Eto'o heading to Inter.

"Watching the unveiling was amazing. Imagine the kind of respect players get here. Personally speaking, it feels good to be a footballer," said the Churchill Brothers player, who was adjudged the best defender of the last I-League.

The unveiling apart, the defender said the team is concentrating on the second friendly against Spanish third division side Assiciacio Esportiva El Prat tomorrow.

"The first friendly was more of getting used to match situation. We will be in a better shape and form in the second friendly. I don't want to think too much about the result but we ought to win tomorrow," he said.

Meanwhile, striker Sunil Chhetri started intensive training yesterday and went through the paces along with teammates under the watchful eyes of coach Bob Houghton.

"Sunil has been working hard all along and he wanted to to be among us for the full training as soon as possible. He looked good at his first intensive session yesterday," Gouramangi said.

India play their third and fourth friendlies on August 1 and 5 before flying home on August 7.

Bureau Report

First Published: Tuesday, July 28, 2009, 20:13

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