New Delhi: Well aware of India`s love for cricket, top players from Bundesliga club TSG 1899 Hoffenheim are curiously waiting to see the "standard of soccer" in a country once described as world football`s `sleeping giant` by FIFA president Sepp Blatter.
The club, which plays in the world renowned top-tier German league, touched down in the Capital today on its way to Aizawl where they will play a friendly match against the triumphant Santosh Trophy Mizoram XI.
TSG 1899 Hoffenheim has announced a star-studded squad for the India tour with German international Andreas Beck, Brazilian Roberto Firmino and Poland international Eugen Polanski spearheading the German side.
"I`m really looking forward to the friendly match in Aizawl. I`m curious to know how the standard of Indian football is like and how much the people are interested in the game. One gets to know primarily about cricket, if you hear about India and sports," Firmino, an attacking midfielder, said.
The Germans are here as part of one-week long tour organised by Switzerland-based Adamant Sports Management AG with the support of Presenting Partners the German Bundesliga and IT major SAP. Besides Aizawl, the players will be travelling to Delhi, Kolkata and Goa.
"My intention was to have the team together for another week after a successful, but exhausting season," TSG 1899 Hoffenheim coach Markus Gisdol said. "It will also give us the opportunity to reflect and analyse the season. Hence the India tour developed together with the DFL (operating body of the Bundesliga) and SAP."
Arunava Chaudhuri, Project Manager, Adamant Sports Management AG, said, "Hoffenheim choosing India for their end of the season tour is a great event to happen and it will further strengthen the Indo-German football relations. We at Adamant Sports are happy to support Hoffenheim in their aim to build a long-term relationship with Indian football.
"Hoffenheim will be coming to India with all their star players except the ones preparing for the FIFA World Cup. Coach Gisdol added: "It will be certainly an interesting and reasonable conclusion of the season for us in an alien culture. We are really looking forward to it."
The Mizoram Football Association (MFA) has also announced its squad for the match at the Lammual Stadium in Aizawl. Indian international Jeje Lalpekhlua, Lalrindika Ralte, Shylo Malsawmtluanga and Robert Lalthlamuana will be added to the squad, which won the 2014 Santosh Trophy, while a few Mizoram Premier League (MPL) players would also be part of the team.