In the midst of all the excitement and optimism surrounding Glasgow Rangers’ invitation to India national team strikers Sunil Chhetri and Jeje Lalpekhlua for trials at Murray Park at the end of this month, the new technical director for Indian football, Robert Baan, took a different stand on Saturday.
“For any player, in order to improve, it is pivotal that he plays at a level higher than what he is regularly used to. Chhetri and Jeje are still young and an offer like this is obviously excellent for their futures but they should give it enough thought,” said the 68-year-old on the eve of India’s friendly against Malaysia here on Saturday.
“It isn’t just about opportunities, one needs to exploit it at the right moment too. Presently, I believe that the two of them need to finish with this season’s I-League first and also, the weather conditions in Scotland at the moment are not conducive for them to adjust there immediately.”
Lalpekhlua couldn’t resist a smile when asked about the offer from the 54-time Scottish champions coached by Ally McCoist. “I’m excited and honoured to have received the invitation for trials there and I will give it my best when I go there. However, presently, it’s up to my agent (Yogesh Joshi) who will be negotiating with my club (Pune FC) before I can say anything for sure.” Chhetri was not available for a comment.
malaysia a challenge
Savio Medeira debuts as India coach on Sunday but had little time to work with his players. “Yes, the planning could have been much better because I’ve had little time to prepare,” said Medeira. “Every coach has his philosophy but I’ve had to play safe by taking only the players who I have regularly been with over the last four and a half years as assistant-coach to the national team.”
However, that Malaysia is ranked 151, nine places above India, did not bother Medeira. “It isn’t all about rankings because we are playing Zambia a few days later and then the Saff Cup is there next month. A win here would give me and the team confidence — it’s a challenge,” said the former Salgaocar player and coach. The last time the two nations met was July 2008 — it ended 1-1 with Bhaichung Bhutia netting for India.
Malaysia coach K Rajagopal has lost nine of his players due to the South-East Asian (SEA) Games, which is currently underway in Jakarta, Indonesia.
For India, goalkeeper Subrata Pal, centre-back Raju Gaekwad and tireless midfielder Mehtab Hossain will be missing the tie, that kicks off at 5 45 pm but won’t be telecast.