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Koevermans cautiously optimistic

Even in an invitational tournament that features just five nations, they are the lowest-ranked team. On top of it, after a year of uncertainty, there is a new man at the helm of affairs. Kaushik Chatterji reports.

sports Updated: Aug 18, 2012 00:22 IST
Kaushik Chatterji

Even in an invitational tournament that features just five nations, they are the lowest-ranked team. On top of it, after a year of uncertainty, there is a new man at the helm of affairs. Little wonder, then, that at India's first national camp on natural turf under Wim Koevermans, the mood was cautiously optimistic.

Five days before the Nehru Cup, Koevermans played safe while interacting with reporters at the practice facility in Greater Noida. The new coach said he was "very pleased" with his support staff (which includes former coach Savio Medeira), brushed aside reports of him being unhappy with Sunil Chhetri - the Sporting Lisbon 'B' forward joined his teammates much later - and projected an "all is well" image that characters from the film "3 Idiots" would be proud of.

During the nearly two-hour-long practice session it was clearly evident that Koevermans, part of the Netherlands' Euro-winning squad in 1988, is a tough taskmaster. Attacking midfielder Allwyn George, also part of India's under-22 squad under Arthur Pappas, admitted as much: "He (Pappas) is friendly, whereas with Wim, it's different. But I'm getting to learn a lot from him."

For others, it has already been an enriching experience. "Personally, it helps that he was a defender during his playing days," said Syed Rahim Nabi. "Already, we've learnt a lot about pacing the game from the back, when to hold the ball and the right moment at which to put it upfield."