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Seniors manage to edge past juniors as Roy scores only goal

sports Updated: Jun 29, 2011 00:31 IST
HT Correspondent

The rationale behind holding a match between the senior India football team and the country's under-23 side at the Ambedkar Stadium on Tuesday was to ensure that everyone got a chance to play, said Armando Colaco.

"The team has had a tough schedule, hitting the gym in the morning and then training in the evening. I wanted everyone to have a chance in the match to assess their strengths and weaknesses. The U-23 are a good side, I was very impressed when I saw them in Pune (for the Olympic qualifier against Qatar)," Colaco said on Tuesday.

The match, over three sessions lasting 35 minutes a quarter, brought to the fore Colaco's philosophy of possession football. The pace though was slow and a Debabrata Roy spot-kick set the seniors apart.

Asked if he was happy with the way the match progressed, the 58-year-old coach said: "I liked that they stuck to passing the ball more. But there were a lot of backpasses and the wings were not used well. We can't afford to do that against UAE (who India play in the World Cup qualifiers on July 23 and 28). We need to cross into the box and finish off the plays."

Colaco felt that the national camp, into its second week now, was yielding positives. "The boys are getting into the groove. The youngsters have also come and fit in well which is great. Not all are fully fit yet. Jeje (Lalpekhlua), who had a long season, and Sunil (Chhetri) are not 100 %. The focus is on improving their fitness now."

Asked if he would consider adding a holding midfielder in the traditional 4-4-2 formation, Colaco said: "Yes, I might use a 4-1-3-2 (formation) because UAE are an attacking side and physically stronger. It will strengthen our defence while the wingers can be used freely."

The Dempo general-secretary and coach also added that he was experimenting with the positional roles for now. "As you saw, I played Debabrata in left-back today, earlier Mahesh Gawli and (Syed Rahim) Nabi have been used. There are a lot of options. However, most likely Mahesh, Raju and Gouramangi will start at the back."

Optimistic duo
Senior midfielder Clifford Miranda, who is recovering from a shinbone injury, said he was enjoying his role as a mentor. "I am enjoying my game and helping the juniors with their game. We are always here to give advice and suggestions."

Mohun Bagan defender Rakesh Masih sounded confident ahead of the tie against UAE, saying, "We are getting fitter by the day and coach Armand has been helpful. We can give them a fight."