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Goan players show optimism and ease as India probables start practice in Goa

The practice that started at around 6.50 pm ended exactly one hour later with the four probables from Goa — Adil Khan, Rowllin Borges, Mandar Rao Desai and Brandon Fernandes — displaying optimism and ease.


Bambolim: Except for Sandhesh Jhingan and Balwant Singh, both recovering from injuries, the other 28 probables chosen to select the India team for the FIFA 2022 World Cup Qualifiers took the practice ground at the Bambolim stadium under the watchful eye of India coach Igor Stimac on Wednesday.

The practice that started at around 6.50 pm ended exactly one hour later with the four probables from Goa — Adil Khan, Rowllin Borges, Mandar Rao Desai and Brandon Fernandes — displaying optimism and ease.

The training adapted by Igor started with elements that are normally seen in routine senior club training and was later broken down into two sessions — one each for defenders and midfield players overseen by India coach.

As is normal, the initial ten minutes were dedicated to the players getting a feel of the ball – short ground passes, interspersed with tossing the ball amongst one another. Every ten minute session was followed by a water break.

The next ten minutes were dedicated to building the stamina through endurance running — first at short distance and the distance increasing proportionately to time.

After a toiled break, the probables were split into two groups of twelve each with the first group of 12 comprising defenders that included Adil and Mandar from Goa. The session was personally supervised by Igor with the defenders being trained on how to keep possession in tight spaces. Igor halted the training to explain specifics to players when he deemed it fit.

As Igor kept himself busy with the defenders, the remaining 12 were put through a grill of shooting from the third yard box by Igor’s assistant coach Venkatesh Prasad who played for Salgaocar FC from around 1996.

The training for the forwards was mostly restricted to shooting at goal with a goalkeeper in goal, from thirty yards.

After finishing with the defenders, Igor shifted training with the midfield players and the focus was on trying to polish on different through-pass techniques with players finishing by taking a shot at goal from around thirty yards. There were not many variations but players did demonstrate various finishing abilities when on one-to-one situations with the goalkeeper.

The four goalkeeper were under the watchful eye of a foreign goalkeeping coach who put them through exercises of how to intercept crosses, when to move out to intercept crosses, with all goalkeepers showing their ability to judge when to parry a cross; when to collect a cross; or when to push it out.

Emphasis was laid on quick recovery, running back when the ball is lost, through many of the exercises during the training.

Just into the second day of their training at the Bambolim stadium and a sense of camaraderie appears to have stepped in amongst the players with Sunil Chhetri showing zest amongst many of the youngsters hoping to get a call to the final team.

As the 28 probables were put through their grind, Sandhesh and Balwant were through a recovery routine through the ninety minutes. They took a few laps around the ground and were put through particular exercises by the physios present. The Goan contingent looked eager with Brandon and Sunil staying back to practise a few penalties after the training was stopped at 7.50 pm and all players called for de-stressing exercises.

Mandar trained with the defenders through the session. He did not look out of player but as he trained the question kept popping up – what should Igor do with a player who is more confident of scoring than defending?

India begins its campaign against Oman on September 5 in Guwahati and then plays AFC Cup Champions Qatar in Doha on September 10. The training will continue in Goa with the AIFF unable to organise any practice friendly for India before the first match.

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