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India keyed up for Cup qualifier

As the World Cup qualifier against Lebanon is around the corner, the Indian team is training hard, reports Abhishek Hore.

sports Updated: Sep 24, 2007 03:19 IST

WITH THE away leg of the World Cup qualifier against Lebanon just round the corner, the Indian footballers, aware of the nation’s expectations, have been training hard in Goa.

Even as the euphoria over the maiden Nehru Cup triumph last month refuses to die down, the players themselves are unperturbed by the hype.

“We have been doing well in recent times. But that’s history now. We need to carry on the good form against Lebanon,” India right-back Surkumar Singh told HT from Goa.

The team is in the middle of a four-day preparatory camp and manager Pradeep Choudhury felt the camp was turning out to be a fruitful one. “The camp was very helpful for the players,” he said. As the team has seen action for the last few months, not much stress was given on fitness. “We have been playing non-stop for the last few months, so physical training did not top the agenda,” said Surkumar.

“We emphasised more on the finer points like technical aspects, correcting flaws and exploring new ideas.”

The news of NS Manju down with a groin injury and a fitness problem for Mahesh Gawli is not comforting, but Choudhury assured both the players would be fit before the team left for Dubai on Wednesday.

On the way to Beirut, there would be a stopover in Dubai where the team will play a practice match against a local side in the last week of this month.

Steven Dias, NP Pradeep, K Ajayan, Sandeep Nandy and Subhasish Roy Choudhury, now with their club Mahindra United for the AFC Cup away-leg quarter-final match against Lebanon’s Al Nejmeh, will join the team in Dubai on September 27.

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