East Bengal, Churchill Brothers` players join national squad

Updated: Feb 28, 2013, 18:37 PM IST

Yangon: All the remaining players of the Indian national football team joined the rest of the squad here Thursday.

While the Churchill Brothers players landed here late Wednesday evening, the East Bengal players joined the squad Thursday morning.

While the four Churchill Brothers players - Sunil Chhetri, Sandip Nandy, Lenny Rodrigues and Denzil Franco - arrived directly from Hong Kong, the three East Bengal players - Raju Gaikwad, Mehtab Hossain and Robin Singh - arrived from Kolkata via Singapore. All the seven were away for their respective club commitments in the AFC Cup.

"It`s nice to have them back. They need sufficient rest and at the same time need to acclimatise to the new time zone and recover fast," said coach Wim Koevermans.

Captain Sunil Chhetri, who joined Churchill Brothers on loan from Sporting Lisbon, said he is quite confident about the upcoming AFC Challenge Cup Qualifiers.

"I got to play two matches and even scored two goals. That makes me more confident. Playing full 90 minutes in two consecutive matches that too one in the AFC Cup has added to my morale. This is a very important tournament for us and we can`t rest back and relax," said Chhetri.

Hossain, the East Bengal midfielder, said: "After a victory in our first match in the AFC Cup, we head into the AFC Challenge Cup with a lot more confidence. We are fit and raring to go."

While Franco added, "It obviously feels nice to be back in the national squad. We will give our best in the forthcoming tournament."

All the seven players were part of a limbering session at the Yangon Training Centre, the match venue, even as the rest sweated it all over on the field.

Indian Player of the Year Syed Rahim Nabi echoed that with the seven players joining the team, the squad is now complete.

"They add to our strength. We don`t have much time prior to our first match against Chinese Taipei. We needed them back badly for the sessions," he said.

While East Bengal striker Robin said, "The national team has always been a special place for me. It`s nice to be back again. This is an important tournament in my career."

India play their first match against Chinese Taipei March 2.