Indian National Team coach Wim Koevermans has always maintained that off the ball movement is as important as ball possession. On Saturday (August 18), in a practice match against the Pailan Arrows, almost a dress rehearsal for the Nehru Cup, Koevermans experimented with all his options at the Jaypee Greens.
The score sheet stayed goalless. In such occasions, however, it just stays immaterial, because the result doesn’t matter. Both the teams pressed on positional play, building from the back. It needs to be pointed out that the wards carried out the instructions of their bosses to perfection.
National Team striker Sunil Chhetri whose spot kick hit the post in the first half maintained the mood in the Camp is “perfect.”
“We are really working hard to do what the coach wants us to do. It is a new system and it will take time. But we are moving in the right direction.”
Subrata Pal, sitting next added: “It’s surely a new system. The buildup starts from the goalkeeper an integral part. It feels nice to be at the National Camp after so long.” Chhetri was all praise for the Pailan wards. “They are a very tough unit. It was a very competitive match. They were not overawed and matched us. We regrouped better in the second half,” he quipped.
Chhetri who plays for Sporting Lisbon informed the Portuguese stint is helping him mature more. “There are players from all over Europe in the squad and also from Africa. I am the eldest member in the squad and hence, the responsibility stays higher.”
Pal, who has also been back from a trial with RB Leipzig informed the football played “in Germany was much more direct. It was nice to be in an alien environment. They praised my work ethics and that means a lot to me.”
Subrata played the entire 90 minutes while Chhetri was substituted after 45 minutes. If Koevermans stayed on his toes shouting instructions, Arthur Papas, India’s U-22 Coach, also the Head Coach of Pailan Arrows, made the best use of the opportunity ahead of the Durand Cup. The Senior Team pressed hard, closing down the gaps and hardly faltering. Pailan sensed it fast, stretched it to the lines and tried to make inroads.