India begin controversy-ridden Caribbean tour
Port of Spain: The Indian football team would look to leave behind the controversies surrounding their Caribbean tour and concentrate on the game when they take on Trinidad & Tobago in an international friendly on Saturday.
The tour itself was in doubt with the clubs refusing to release their players before they relented and then it was reduced to a two-match affair instead of three after coach Armando Colaco cancelling the first game against Barbados in protest against the cold reception by the local organisers.
With 65 places above India at 88th in FIFA rankings and having qualified in 2006 World Cup, Trinidad & Tobago start as firm favourites at the Hasely Crawford Stadium tomorrow but the visitors will have the advantage of having played more international matches in recent times.
The `Socca Warriors` under German coach Otto Pfister has not played any international match since November last year and tomorrow`s match would be their first big match before the
CONCACAF qualifiers for the 2014 World Cup.
India, on the other hand, have played four matches after Colaco took over the reigns -- against Maldives, Qatar and two against United Arab Emirates.
India are playing against Trinidad & Tobago for the first time in 27 years after their 1-2 loss in the three-match series under the captaincy of Parminder Singh.
Colaco knew the credentials of Trinidad & Tobago, one of the strongest sides in the CONCACAF, but said he was confident his young team will give a competitive performance against their opponents on Sunday.
"We are a youthful team in the midst of a transition period, so anything that we can take from the game, we will. We are hoping that everything goes well because our Caribbean tour ends with an encounter against Guyana," Colaco said.
"We have not done any research on the playing style of the opponents but considers them a formidable side, as they had qualified for the 2006 World Cup," said Colaco.
Striker Sunil Chhetri said his side have prepared well for tomorrow`s match and they are ready for the challenge.
"We are very excited. It`s a very big match. It`s not every day we play teams higher ranked than us. It`s going to be a good test," Chhetri said.
"It`s been a long national camp for a month and a half and it`s a good way to see where we`ve reached. I`m looking forward to it as a player and the whole team is anticipating the match. I`m sure it`s going to be a great match. India will definitely give 100 per cent," said the ex-Kansas City Wizards player.
T&T coach Pfister has named only the home-based players available as tomorrow`s friendly is not on a FIFA match date.
The German has selected some players who did not take part in the 2010 Caribbean Cup. Veteran midfielder Densill Theobald has been named as captain.