Indian team leaves for two-month Portugal camp on June 30

New Delhi: Amid the football frenzy in the country because of the World Cup, 28 national players would leave the country on June 30 for Portuguese capital of Lisbon
for a two-month training-cum-competition tour as part of India`s preparation for the Asian Cup in Doha next January.

The players train at the facilities of either Sporting Lisbon or Benfica -- both top sides in Portuguese Premier League -- under coach Bob Houghton would and will play five or six friendlies with second division sides in the Iberian country.

Under `Goal 2011` Project, the All India Football Federation had selected 30 players to exclusively train with Houghton without any club commitments and play international friendlies till the quadrennial showpiece event of the continent in Qatar.

Striker Sunil Chhetri is unlikely to be in Portugal as he is now with the Major League Soccer side Kansas City Wizards while central defender Gouramangi Singh`s availability will be known only after his two-week trial stint with Melbourne Heart FC which began on June 20.

Houghton will brief the players, who have arrived here, about the tour and the AIFF Executive Committee will give its approval of the plan of the whole tour in its meeting on Monday.

After the two-month tour, the Indian players will travel to Bangkok to play an international friendly against Thailand on September 4. Four days later, India will host Thailand in another international friendly, which is likely to be held at the Ambedkar Stadium.

Under the plan, India would also play at least four other international friendlies and are negotiating with countries like Qatar, UAE, Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait, Jordan, DPR Korea and China.

Since the 2014 World Cup qualifiers are unlikely to start from this year, the Indian players may return to Europe in October.

In December, a month before the Asian Cup, the Indian team would travel to either UAE or Oman for a camp to acclimatise with the conditions in Qatar.

The AIFF Executive Committee will also finalise Indian team`s preparation for the Asian Games and give a final seal of approval for fielding the national U-19 side in the I-League 2010-11.

The meeting will also finalise the names of the footballers to be recommended for the Arjuna Award.


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