India Under-23 are to face Pakistan Under-23 on Sunday at the Bangalore Football Stadium in the first of the two practice matches as the two sides prepare for the Asian Games to be held next month.
Wim Koevermans, the India coach was pleased to learn that Bangaloreans would turn up in numbers to support the national side.
“First of all, I would like to welcome our guests from Pakistan. It will be a great opportunity for the two countries to play each other. We play two matches, as you know. It's good to be able to play friendly matches before we enter the Asian Games. As you know, when India and Pakistan play against each other, it's always good games. So both teams will learn a lot,” he said.
“Our aim is to prepare ourselves in the best possible way for the Asian Games. So we're very happy that Pakistan agreed to play two matches here in Bangalore. We're looking forward to two good games. What I'm heard is that the stadium is sold out. So it's about 8,000 people per match and that would give a great atmosphere. So I'm looking forward to both the matches,” he added.
On the team’s preparation, Koevermans was pleased with the three week camp in Bangalore after which they left for Czech Republic to play three practice matches against second and third division sides.
“We have been together for three weeks in Bangalore, then two weeks in Czech Republic and now back in Bangalore. So far, I think we worked very well. I enjoyed very much to work with the boys. I have three senior players with me, but they look like Under-23s as well given the way they act, the way they play and train. So I'm very happy. I enjoyed every day,” he mentioned.
One of the criticism leveled at Koevermans is the fact that India didn’t get positive results against the lower division sides of Czech Republic as they lost two and drew one. However, the former High Performance Director of Ireland defended by stating that the quality of the teams they played was very high.
“We had a great exposure trip in Czech Republic. We played three good teams. Two matches we should have won easily. The third one was probably the most difficult game, but the most important thing is that we gained a lot from those matches. The boys experienced good football teams. So hopefully we can keep growing in the next matches to come and the aim in the end is to perform in the Asian Games.
“We played second and third division clubs in Czech Republic, but still that's a very high level. They are not national teams because they are not available. As you know, all the competitions in Europe have started. So you cannot get national teams. It's not a problem. We have played national teams and we play two club teams once we go to China as well. The most important thing is that we build ourselves and we play against strong oppositions,” he explained.
The Dutchman agreed that his side still needs to improve and they will be working towards in the coming weeks in order to be best prepared for the Asian Games in Incheon.
“You develop the team in all the aspects of football - how to defend, how to attack and the things that happen in between. So far we have made good progress and the games are a test to see how far we are at the moment. There are still a couple of weeks before we go for the Asian Games. There are definitely going to be areas that we have to improve. So far I think we have made good steps.”