Kolkata boys gear up for ASEAN Cup challenge
Kuala Lumpur, July 12, With dreams in their eyes, only 11 fit boys from Kolkata representing Yamaha India want to do their country proud as they take the field in the five-nation U-13 ASEAN Cup football tournament, starting here Friday. The full squad is not here, as nine boys failed to catch the flight from Delhi to the Malaysian capital as they have no passports - a big blow for the team's aspiration to win the tournament.
They know they can't ask for substitutions, but the youngsters do not feel handicapped, they are confident they can battle it out against top teams like hosts Malaysia, defending champions Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam at the Stadium PJ Kelana Jaya. India is the only country that is not being represented by a national team. Yamaha India comprises mostly boys from Michael Nagar club from the suburban Kolkata.
They were selected after a qualifying round conducted by Yamaha in Kolkata. The Indian boys have a tough challenge, having been clubbed with Malaysia Blue and Vietnam, winners of the inaugural edition in 2008, in Group A. Malaysia Yellow, 2010 champions Indonesia and holders Thailand are in Group B, seen as the group of death. While Indian team coach Chinmoy Sikdar is a worried man, his wards remain confident.
"We have just 11 fit players, it is tough playing without the bench. We have to take one match at a time. There will be no room for error or bravado. The boys are high on confidence," said Sikdar. A confident skipper Asraf Ali Mondal says playing without substitutes won't be a big deal. "We don't have to think too much. I am confident we can do it," said Mondal. The team will be banking on the experience of three players - Paltu Sarkar, Sujoy Mallick and goalkeeper Debabpriya Das - who played in the last edition in Bangkok in 2011.
The team's second goalkeeper Kaushik Majhi will be playing as a defensive mid-fielder. Yamaha India in their first game take on the winner of the match between Malaysia Blue and Vietnam here Friday.