Those who arrived included the likes of Subrata Pal, Clifford Miranda, Mehtab Hossain, Arata Izumi, Lalkamal Bhowmick, Francis Fernandes and all other players who played had played their I-League matches on Saturday.
However, there have been two changes to the squad of 23 – Joaquim Abranches and goalkeeper Subhasish Roychowdhury joining the squad in place of Anthony Pereira and Karanjit Singh respectively. Both Pereira and Singh sustained injuries during their club commitments on Saturday.
Striker Sushil Kumar Singh will join the squad on early Sunday morning.
All the players had a recovery cum light training session under the watchful eyes of National Coach Wim Koevermans at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in the afternoon.
“The camaraderie in the National squad is what makes you feel special,” current AIFF Player-of-the-Year Syed Rahim Nabi said. “Everyone looks fit and raring to go. This is a very important match for us and we need to be on our toes,” he added.
“We intend to have an afternoon session on Monday,” Koevermans informed. “It will be a very important one.”
“Most of the boys head to Kochi with added confidence. Many of my players scored in the last round of matches in the I-League. That will surely boost their confidence a lot,” he maintained. For the record, CK Vineeth scored a hat-trick for his club Prayag United while Francis Fernandes, Alwyn George and Jewel Raja also scored for the respective clubs.
“It’s a dream come true for me,” Vineet uttered. “Till now, I used to stay eager to hear stories from Senior players about the National Camp. I need to pinch myself to believe I have actually made it here,” he opined. “But this is just the start. Unless you work harder, I won’t be able to retain my place.”
At the end of the session, the squad interacted at length with blind footballers from Kochi and even played blind-folded with them. “It is a different feeling when you have your eyes blind-folded,” striker Manandeep Singh echoed. “You need to sense and feel everything by your side. It’s all about telepathy,” he pronounced.
The Indian team will be presenting a jersey and a ball signed by all the team members to the blind football club prior to the kick-off of the match on Wednesday. Eleven players will also walk onto the pitch with the Indian starting XI for the National Anthem.
(Courtesy: AIFF MEDIA)