Maybe this whole Caribbean tour is a bad idea. Beset by ‘club v country’ problems soon after the idea was mooted, it seems that the senior national football team now has a travel schedule problem.
Coach Armando Colaco and his team were supposed to exit the capital early Friday morning. That isn’t happening now.
“We have no idea when we are leaving because the plan to leave tomorrow (Friday) morning has been changed,” team manager Mandar Tamhane told HT, adding, “We were supposed to transit through London (and stay overnight) and maybe plans have changed because of the riots. We aren’t too sure of what’s happening because the federation and the tour operator have to sort out the matter.”
Thursday’s practice session, comprising short games and passing exercises, lasted almost three hours. “The three teams (Barbados, Trinidad & Tobago and Guyana) are much better than us, I already know that. Starting practice earlier would have helped,” said Colaco.
Asked if the clubs-federation bout had affected the players, Colaco said: “It had to! I spoke to them, everything’s fine now but why should it have happened in the first place? The clubs should have released them before when they were asked because that’s what the rule book says. It’s an ego problem.”
Dempo SC, of which Colaco is the coach and general secretary, Pune FC, Mohun Bagan and East Bengal. They fought the All India Football Federation (AIFF) stating that the friendlies would not affect the country’s rankings.
The AIFF, however, had categorically stated that they would. “I had said that I wanted to bring the federation and clubs closer. A proper plan needs to be worked out,” said the 58-year-old coach.
Asked about injury worries, the captain for the tour and if all 26 players at the camp would be travel, Colaco replied: “I’m trying to take them all but fitness is a problem. Jewel (Raja Sheikh) has a niggle. The captain will be the senior-most, most likely Climax (Lawrence) or even Samir (Naik).”
India are scheduled to play Barbados (August 17), Trinidad & Tobago (August 21) and Guyana (August 24) on this tour.
Complimentary tickets for the international friendly between Argentina and Venezuela in Kolkata were handed over to the India team at their hotel on Thursday. The match is scheduled on September 2.