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HindustanTimes Sat,25 Oct 2014

Football

Coach underplays India's dependence on Sunil Chhetri
Kushal Phatarpekar, Hindustan Times
Bangalore, August 20, 2014
First Published: 01:35 IST(20/8/2014)
Last Updated: 01:44 IST(20/8/2014)

India's preparations for the Incheon Asian Games has been on now for over a month, and in this duration they have played four competitive matches. There's generally been only one name on the scoreboard - Sunil Chhetri.

The former Sporting Lisbon player has become the be-all and end-all of the team. The skipper's leadership skills and tactical know-how have left a huge gap between him and his teammates.

Despite playing two other senior players - Robin Singh and Francis Fernandes - in the forward line, India coach Wim Koevermans has had to look to the Bengaluru FC captain to find the net.

Koevermans had organised a long training camp for the India under-23 side, which was a residential camp in Bangalore, followed by a tour to the Czech Republic.

India lost two and drew once against second and third division outfits. Apart from Chhetri, none of the players, managed to score.

On Sunday as well, it was Chhetri's crucial touch that ensured India's victory over Pakistan.

This has become a trend since Koevermans took over. There is overdependence on Chhetri, which has not ebbed, since the SAFF Championships last year.

However, despite the evidence, the coach has chosen to underplay the team's dependence on the star striker.

"We chose to take him (Chhetri) in the first place because we knew how important he would be to the side," said Koevermans.

"Players are coming up slowly and we are looking at great improvement with some of them. But finishing is always a worry. The positives are that others are creating chances and hopefully the trend will change before the Games begin," he added.

On Wednesday, India will play their last competitive game before leaving for China.

With the Asian Games just a month away, it will be imperative for the side to find a way past this predicament.

Robin Singh, India's other forward, will miss out on Wednesday's game against Pakistan after getting a red card on Sunday.


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