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Koevermans backs Chetri

Calcutta: National coach Wim Koevermans is not losing sleep over the fact that Sunil Chetri is hardly getting any match time at Sporting Lisbon ‘B’.

Since Sunil joined the Lisbon side in July, he has played only one match earlier this month, coming in as a substitute for the last five minutes.

With India playing against Singapore in a friendly on Tuesday, Sunil’s lack of match time should be a concern for Koevermans.

But Koevermans told a media conference, at the Salt Lake Stadium on Thursday that he has complete faith in Chetri’s abilities and backed the striker to deliver against Singapore. “I want all the players to play regularly. I’ll definitely like Sunil to get more match time… I’m planning to speak to him. In fact, I might also travel to Lisbon to see how he is doing,” said Koevermans.

Even though Koevermans harped on every player playing regularly, there are some like Sanju Pradhan — the Kingfisher East Bengal captain — who are not regular starters for their respective clubs. Even on Thursday, in the match against United Sikkim Football Club, Sanju came in the 66th minute.

India have made only one change to the 20-member squad that won the Nehru Cup. East Bengal striker Manandeep Singh, who is nursing an ankle injury, has been replaced by Dempo’s Joaquim Abranches.

While Joaquim was rewarded for his good show in the Federation Cup, East Bengal’s Arnab Mondal was surprisingly overlooked.

But the defender, who had a brilliant match against Dempo in the Fed Cup final, should not feel disheartened.

“The performance of some of the players really impressed me… These players will be monitored regularly. If they continue doing well, we will certainly give them a chance in the future,” Koevermans said.

The Singapore friendly will be India’s first match since their Nehru Cup triumph in August. Asked what will be Koevermans’ aim, he said: “We have made a good start … And we have to continue playing well. We have to improve… Our main target will be to win the match...”

In the Nehru Cup, India played in the tried and tested 4-4-2 formation. Speaking about trying out new formations against Singapore, Koevermans said: “I think there is no harm in trying to play in different formations… What is important is we should stick to our style of play. We should try to maintain possession and build up our attacks by playing passes.”

Koevermans is also planning to meet the I-League coaches in December.

“It will be for the first time that I’ll be meeting all the coaches. I’m eagerly waiting to meet them… We can only develop Indian football if I have a good relationship with the coaches of different clubs. I want to discuss various issues… I would love to hear their views also.”

The Indian team leaves for Singapore in the wee hours of Saturday.

The squad

Goalkeepers: Subrata Paul, Subhasish Roychowdhury, Karanjeet Singh; Defenders: Nirmal Chetri, Denzil Franco, Gouramangi Singh, Gurwinder Singh, Raju Gaikwad, Syed Rahim Nabi; Midfielders: Lenny Rodrigues, Mehtab Hossain, Jewel Raja, Francis Fernandes, Alwyn George, Anthony Pereira, Sanju Pradhan, Clifford Miranda; Forwards: Robin Singh, Sunil Chetri, Joaquim Abranches.