Free Press Journal

Indian football team left with little training time



Muscat: Stranded for a day in Turkmenistan due to non-arrival of flights, Indian football team coach Stephen Constantine is a worried man now as his beleaguered players will not get much time to prepare for their World Cup qualifying round match against Oman here on October 13.

After losing to Turkmenistan 1-2 on October 8, the Indians were to leave Ashgabat the next day for Oman, but they got stuck at the airport for more than a day due to non-arrival of flights on account of bad weather.

The team was originally scheduled to board a 5.30pm (local time) flight on October 9 from Ashgabat, but it eventually took off for Dubai the next day at 9.35pm. The worse thing was that no one was sure as to whether the flight would arrive at all. The contingent slept, chatted, watched movies on laptop, played board games, listened to songs and slept at the airport terminal.

The ordeal left the players tired, a fact that worries Constantine, who is already under pressure after losing four straight matches and his side almost out of reckoning for the final round.

“We have already lost two precious days, something which we can’t afford to do at the moment. We had planned for four training sessions in Muscat for which we had an understanding with the Oman FA. But now we have to be content with a couple,” Constantine.

“It’s been a long wait. Finally, we are here,” the coach said after landing here at wee hours today, a delay of over 26 hours from the scheduled time they were supposed to arrive in Oman.

Constantine’s sentiments were echoed by goalkeeper Subrata Paul. “We are not in a position where we can afford to lose practice sessions. We need to settle down fast,” he said.