In the World Cup last year, minutes before Japan kicked off their crucial group match against Brazil, Japan’s Brazilian-born coach Zico was seen singing the national anthem of his country of birth.
A déjà vu is a possibility on Monday when India take on Bangladesh in an ONGC Nehru Cup league match at the Ambedkar Stadium. Will the Indian-born Bangladesh coach Syed Nayeemuddin do a Zico and follow in the footsteps of the great Brazilian striker of the yesteryears? We’ll have to wait and watch.
In this tournament, Nayeem has become a the man who has been getting the greatest attention since his team landed in the city.
But despite his impressive pedigree as a player as well as former Indian coach, Nayeem’s boys failed to live up to the expectations in their opening match and now have a mountain to climb on Monday if they hope to stay afloat in the tournament.
Indian coach Bob Houghton, on the other hand, is in an enviable position at the moment, in charge of a team that on paper looks one of the most talented sides in the tournament, if not the best side. For him, the biggest challenge, though, will be to keep the momentum going.
“Bangladesh played a defensive game against Syria. But let me tell you, India playing Bangladesh is going to be totally different from a Syria versus Bangladesh contest,” said Houghton.
Houghton, who took the reins of the Indian team a year ago, also said that he is aware of the rivalry that exists between India and Bangladesh when it comes to football.
“I have come to know that there has always existed a great rivalry between India and Bangladesh,” Houghton said.
The injury to Indian midfielder N.P. Pradeep might have come as a piece of good news for Nayeemuddin, but Houghton felt that his replacement, Meherajuddin Wadoo, would be able to do a good job. “Both are similar kind of players, I think Wadoo will fit in well,” the Indian coach said.
Asked if skipper Bhaichung Bhutia would play the entire 90 minutes of the game, Houghton said, “Bhaichung is getting older and doesn’t play for 90 minutes even for his club.”
India netted six times against Cambodia and on current form are the clear favourites, and could smash in many more against Bangladesh.
Bangladesh team trains
On Sunday morning, as the Bangladeshi players walked in for a training session in a city college ground, the clouds turned grey and seemed to have settled in. There were drizzles as well but Nayeemuddin’s boys trained and let the breeze blow away the summer blues.
“We know we have an important match coming up, so we have to prepare ourselves, it doesn’t matter if it’s raining,” captain Kazi Nazrul Islam said.
Lost in a world of his own, Nayeemuddin has always managed to rise in the toughest of circumstances, but he knows that India on Monday will not be an easy prey.
“They played too defensive. They need to change this defensive mindset if they want to start winning on a regular basis,” he signed off.