India football team reaches Kerala to face Turkmenistan

Kochi, March 26 (IANS) The Indian football team arrived here on Saturday morning for their 2018 World Cup Preliminary Joint Qualification Round 2 match against Turkmenistan, slated to be played at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here on March 29.

The 22-member squad looked visibly tired after their overnight flight from Tehran via Dubai and settled down in their rooms after a quick breakfast.

The squad was boosted by the presence of ace striker Sunil Chhetri, who joined the camp in the morning. Chhetri had missed the match against Iran, which India lost 0-4, due to a groin injury. Midfielder Md. Rafique is also joining the squad.

“It was quite a tiring journey from Tehran. We look forward to fine tune some aspects in our training session here,” coach Stephen Constantine told www.the-aiff.com.

“We need to assess some Players over the status of their injuries which they suffered in the last match. The last time we played in Kerala for the SAFF Cup, the support from the Kerala Football Association was wonderful. We look forward for the same enthusiasm.”

For the record, Turkmenistan are currently ranked 113 in the FIFA rankings in comparison to India, who are 160.

“Turkmenistan come into the game fresh as they did not have to play any match on March 24. They are a very good side with some quality players who add to their strength. They are presently on 10 points in Group D and there’s a reason why they are ranked 113,” Constantine stated.

The coach also made a special mention of Kerala and its fans.

“The support for the SAFF Cup was amazing. We just could not have done without their support. Some 45,000 sang and chanted for us non-stop and without them we could not have won it in Trivandrum,” Constantine maintained, recollecting the triumph of the SAFF Cup.

“During my stint in India as a coach I have worked with some exceptional talents from Kerala. The talent and passion for the sport in the state has no bounds.”

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