NEW DELHI: Tuesday marked a new dawn in Indian football as coach Igor Stimac oversaw his first official training session with the recently-called up players at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here. The national team, under previous coach Stephen Constantine, had reached as high as 96 in FIFA rankings and did quite well in the AFC Asian Cup.
But his team selection was not always popular as he kept ignoring the likes of Rahul Bheke, Brandon Fernandes and Michael Soosairaj despite their stellar form with their respective clubs. But the new coach made sure he rewarded all deserving players with a call-up ahead of the King’s Cup in Thailand. And both Bheke and Fernandes hoped to make the most of the opportunity.
“When the season ended, I had a feeling that I would make the squad especially as the news was out that someone else will come in. I was expecting that with the entry of a new coach, maybe I will get a call-up and I prepared myself accordingly,” Bheke said.While both stopped short of speaking ill of Constantine, they said that whatever happened was in the past.
“We want to become constants with India. For that we have to work hard and act according to the coach’s ethos. He spoke of improving in Asia and the King’s Cup is a great way to start,” both said.The players also spoke of how the 51-year-old tried to boost morale during the team meeting last night. “He greeted everyone with a Namaste. We all laughed. That was a great way to start,” revealed Bheke.