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Injury woes return to haunt Indian football team

sports Updated: Jun 17, 2011 00:16 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
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New India coach Armando Colaco may have to battle the old problem of injuries that affected his predecessor Bob Houghton in the run up to the Asian Cup finals last January.

Only into his second day of preparations for the double leg World Cup qualifiers against the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Colaco already has four players with fitness concerns.

Arun Kumar, Denzil Franco, Gurwinder Singh (who will be out for three weeks with an ankle injury) and midfielder Clifford Miranda have all picked up niggles by Thursday evening.

Colaco though didn't seem too worried by this. "The physical conditioning coach will be arriving tomorrow (Friday) and we will then assess the severity of the injuries," he said.

"The I-League has finished so the players are taking a while to adjust coming from a break. Currently, they are not lasting a full 30 minutes and the humidity is also a factor," he said. The weather though would make it easier for the team to acclimatise in the UAE, where India play on July 23, he said. The home match will be at the Nehru Stadium here on July 28.

"I like the ground here too as it has improved vastly since the couple of times I've been here during the Durand Cup," said Colaco, now on leave from Dempo where is the coach and general secretary.

The coach said he would stick to Houghton's formation. "I would like to play a 4-4-2, maybe with a holding midfielder. I will begin practising set-pieces once the players begin to gel."

Five more players will join the camp on Friday, centre-back Gouramangi Singh and midfielder Rocus Lamare among them. Seven Indian Arrows players who form the core of the under-23 India team, which plays Qatar in the Olympic qualifiers, will join after the return leg on June 23 in Pune. The away tie is on Sunday.