Bhaichung Bhutia admits he is not fully fit to play 90 minutes but is mentally geared up to lead the national football team for the last time during his farewell match against Bayern Munich at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi on Tuesday.
Bhutia, who retired last year after having led the country for nearly a decade, said it was a great honour of having a farewell match -- and that too against Bayern. A part of the proceeds will be donated to the earthquake victims of Bhutia's home state of Sikkim.
"I am mentally fit and prepared. But in terms of physical fitness I am not 100 per cent in the sense required to play against a top international side like Bayern Munich. But I will give my best," Bhutia said after a practice session at the Ambedkar Stadium.
"I will start the match for sure and want to play the full 90 minutes but let's see. The injury I had suffered is such that it can occur anytime. I hope I don't get injured." he said.
Asked about the importance of the match in the context of Indian football, Bhutia said: "You cannot compare the Indian team with Bayern Munich which is as good as the German national side. But it's an opportunity for the players to know how much they need to work on to take themselves to the level of top international players.
"But we want to do well. For me, it is just enjoying my last match and enjoying the moment. International players normally retire during a tournament or an international match but that did not happen for me due to injury. But I feel honoured to play my farewell match against a top side like Bayern Munich."
Bhutia said he was weighing his options as an administrator but his priority is his club United Sikkim.
"I don't need to be in the All India Football Federation (AIFF) now but will contribute to Indian football by making United Sikkim a successful side in the country in terms of the results and financial viability," he said.
"United Sikkim is important for Sikkim as well as the country. It is important that investors come in the game and that can happen if the clubs are successful and financially rewarding. So I want to make United Sikkim successful. It is a challenge and I want to do it. I have another project in Bhaichung Bhutia Football Schools through which I can contribute in grassroot development in the country," he said
Asked how he would sum up his international career, Bhutia said: "It’s being a great learning process with lots of ups and downs. I have enjoyed every moment and have no regrets. The good moments added to the confidence while the downs in life taught me lessons to go that extra pace. I have always stayed committed to the National Team and will carry the memories."