While millions of Indians pamper themselves with top-quality football at the greatest show on earth, a motley bunch of gentlemen will be cooped up in their rooms, keeping track of the moves and grooves of two teams in particular — Australia and South Korea.
The two powerhouses have been drawn in the same group as India in the forthcoming Asian Cup to be hosted by Qatar early next year. Bahrain makes up the quartet in Group C, throwing India into a potential ‘Group of Death’ in their first continental appearance in 27 years.
“No doubt, we will be keeping an eye on how Australia and South Korea go about their game,” said defender Mahesh Gawli. “Personally I would want to get familiar with their team formations and counter-attacking styles so that we can be on the guard.”
India’s No. 3 goalkeeper, Arindam Bhattacharya, will follow the likes of Brazilian custodian Julio Cesar to improve his skills. “We know players like Tim Cahill (Australia) and the ‘three-lunged’ Park Ji-sung (South Korea) will come hard at us, so it’s best to concentrate on myself,” the 22-year-old said.
Midfield mainstay NP Pradeep sounded concerned about the Australians’ physical dominance. “Australians come with a mentality of winning and they will never give you an inch,” he said. “I hope we get enough inputs about them from this World Cup. Ultimately it depends on our coach and technical staff on how they rehearse us for Australia and South Korea.”
“It’s about looking for those chinks in their armour which will help us ,” said senior striker Abhishek Yadav from Mumbai. Houghton’s boys are leaving no stone unturned to reduce the odds against them. The WC might help them do that.