India football team arrives in Kolkata for World Cup qualifier against B'desh
Kolkata: A 23-member Indian team with head coach Igor Stimac landed here on Saturday for the upcoming World Cup qualifying match against Bangladesh slated to be played at the Saltlake Stadium on Tuesday.
India will be playing their first match in Kolkata for the first time since 2011 and the euphoria around the match has been immense with a mad rush for tickets among football lovers in the city and suburban areas.
"It has been fantastic. The welcome in Kolkata has been just outstanding. Now it's for us to repay everyone. Let's win it together in Kolkata, with Kolkata," India midfielder Udanta Singh said after his arrival.
However, local lad Pritam Kotal was not much willing to soak in the 'Bengal sentiment' and said they would have to fight it together.
"It's the Indian national team which sings the National Anthem together. It hardly matters who hails from Bengal or who was born in Punjab. We are going to fight it together on the field against Bangladesh to get our first win of the World Cup qualifiers. Hence, it is not just about Bengalis," he said.
Pumped up after holding Asian champions Qatar in their away match last month, India will be looking for their first win and keep their hopes alive.
Head coach Igor Stimac stressed on the importance of getting the "combinations right."
"We'll need to work on set-pieces, combinations and choose the best eleven for the game. The entire squad is extremely excited. Thank you Kolkata for your response, Stimac, who coached Croatia to qualify for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, said.
The Blue Tigers arrived here after a 10-day preparatory camp in Guwahati which midfielder Ashique Kuruniyan described as fruitful.
"It was a productive camp for us. We had some intense sessions and a friendly match which helped us assess our strengths. Now, it's on us to tighten the screws and execute the plans on 15th," Kuruniyan said.
New kid on the block Abdul Sahal said it's a dream
come true to be part of the national team.