x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

India football coach calls for injury cover ahead of AFC Challenge Cup

Savio Medeira, the India coach, has to submit his final list of 23 players to the Asian Football Confederation on Friday.

Coach Savio Medeira, left, is pleased with India's preparations for the AFC Challenge Cup in Nepal.
Coach Savio Medeira, left, is pleased with India's preparations for the AFC Challenge Cup in Nepal.

DUBAI // Injuries may force the India national football team to call up reinforcements before the AFC Challenge Cup begins next week in Nepal.

The squad wrap up a 15-day training camp today in Dubai, with the midfielders Rocas Lamare, Clifford Miranda, Baldeep Singh and the defender Arnab Mondal all nursing injuries.

Savio Medeira, the coach, has to submit his final list of 23 players to the Asian Football Confederation on Friday.

"We came to Dubai with a 30-man selection for the competition and picked up a few injuries," he said. "We have 50 registered players and might need to call some up to join the team."

Medeira selected mostly young players for the AFC Cup, which India won in 2008.

"We have a lot of young players in the team but what they lack in experience is be compensated in speed and skill," Sunil Chhetri, India's star striker, said.

During the camp, India played and lost two games – 3-0 to Azerbaijan and 5-1 to Oman. But Medeira was happy with the progress they made.

"The camp was excellent and we have worked on many technical aspects in our game," he said. "The goal we have set is to advance from our group and reach the semi-finals. After that we will be playing it game by game."

India will be playing in Group B alongside North Korea, Tajikistan and the Philippines.

"We are in a tough group facing tough opposition," Medeira said. "Despite the fact that we are entering as favourites, we have a young team that we are still building."

The team will depart for New Delhi on Saturday, then fly the next day to Kathmandu to start final preparations for the competition.

India will face the 2006 champions Tajikistan next Friday, before taking on the cup holders North Korea and then the Philippines.

The AFC Challenge Cup winners will qualify for the 2015 AFC Asian Cup.

amustafa@thenational.ae