Calcutta/Kathmandu: They may have tasted success in their last two outings against the Maldives, but Indian football coach Wim Koevermans said ahead of their SAFF Cup semi-final against the islanders that underestimating a team was not in his nature.
“That is the past. We need to be in the present. We don’t underestimate any team,” Koevermans said. The Dutch stressed on the importance of recovery of players in such a hectic schedule. It’s a difficult schedule. But I’m still not happy with the quality of the practice ground,” he said. Asked about the fitness of his team, he said: “Everyone is available for the semi-final against the Maldives.”
India take on the Maldives in the second semi-final of the SAFF Championship on Monday. They had a practice session at the Police Headquarters Ground on Saturday morning.
Koevermans did watch the Maldives play Afghanistan in the final group B league match the previous day. “Yeah, I watched the Maldives for 90 minutes. They are a tough unit,” he said.
Referring to comments of the Maldives’ captain Ali Ashfaq that this is the ‘weakest Indian team ever’, Koevermans said: “Everyone had labelled our group as the Group of Death. There were no easy teams in our group. And now we are in the semi-final. “I hope they underestimate us. We need to be ready for the Maldives and are preparing ourselves,” he maintained.
Former India U-23 captain Raju Gaikwad felt that Sunil Chetri’s absence in the semi-final (due to double bookings) should not be a deterrent.