Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Arnab Mondal to captain India against Oman

Ranked 40 places ahead of India in the current FIFA Standings, Oman’s French Coach Paul Le Guen has put the onus on the hosts of providing a stellar encounter which will test the credentials of both sides. 

The new match has a new Captain - Arnab Mondal has been chosen to lead India against Oman and Guam.

National Coach Stephen Constantine starts from almost where he had left. His last match as Indian National Team Coach in the World Cup Qualifiers in 2004 was against Oman, that too an away match. 

"Ali Al-Habsi was a promising talent at that time and had he not pulled off two spectacular saves late in the match which some other Goalkeeper may not have been able to…,” Constantine doesn’t finish it, smiles  and shrugs.

Eleven years later, Ali Al-Habsi is still there, this time at the Garden City as the Captain of the Oman National squad as the two Teams gear up for the Russia 2018 World Cup Preliminary Joint Qualification match in Bengaluru tomorrow.

“This match against Oman will be a completely different game, an entirely different level. We will be without the ball for long periods of the game. The boys would be under pressure from the very first minute by a very good Oman Team,” he maintains.

“Oman have always been a very good side and I have always have a lot of respect for them. They are not the biggest Nation in the World but the developmental process which has been on in the Country speaks for itself.” he adds. 

“I don’t select Players on reputation. When I go to watch games I don’t care where they come from, who they are, how old they are. As long as they hold an Indian Passport and if they do what I need them to do, I pick them. I think in these Competitions, every Team aims to win all their home games and try to steal something away from the Away matches.” he echoes.

New captain Arnab is honored to don the captain's armband, “It’s a rare honour for me and I want to thank Coach for giving me this honour. But this doesn’t change anything. Everyone is a Captain in their own right – right from the Coach to the other Players, the support staff. It’s not about an individual. It’s about the Team.”

A glance through the squad of 26 and one will find out that 8 among them are attending the National Team Camp for the first time. 

News from the India camp is defender Sandesh Jhingan will be mostly missing the match owing to an old injury he sustained during ISL, which resurfaced during the practice.

The kick-off at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium on tomorrow, Thursday, June 11 is at 7 pm. 

Sony Six will telecast the match live.