India face Trinidad, kick off tour

The Indian football team will look to leave behind the controversies surrounding their Caribbean tour and focus on the game when they take on Trinidad & Tobago.

The tour itself was in doubt with a host of top Indian clubs refusing to release their players, they eventually relented, but not before India's Caribbean tour was reduced to a two-match affair instead of the three initially planned.

Sitting some 65 places above India, who are 88th in FIFA rankings, and having qualified for the 2006 FIFA World Cup, Trinidad & Tobago will start as firm favourites at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on Sunday, the visitors do, however, have the advantage of having played more international matches in recent times.

The 'Socca Warriors' - now under the guidance of experienced German coach Otto Pfister - have not played an international match since November last year and the clash with India will be their first big match before the CONCACAF qualifiers for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

India, on the other hand, have played four matches since head coach Armando Colaco took over the reigns - against the Maldives, Qatar and two World Cup qualifiers against United Arab Emirates.

India are playing against Trinidad & Tobago for the first time in 27 years after their 2-1 loss in a three-match series under the captaincy of Parminder Singh.

Colaco knows the credentials of Trinidad & Tobago, one of the strongest sides in the CONCACAF, but said he was confident his young team will give a competitive performance against their opponents.

"We are a youthful team in the midst of a transition period, so anything that we can take from the game, we will," Colaco said.

"We are hoping that everything goes well because our Caribbean tour ends with an encounter against Guyana.

"We have not done any research on the playing style of the opponents but consider them a formidable side, as they qualified for the 2006 World Cup," said Colaco.

Striker Sunil Chhetri said his side have prepared well, and are ready for the challenge.

"We are very excited. It's a very big match. It's not every day we play teams higher ranked than us. It's going to be a good test," Chhetri said.

"It's been a long national camp for a month and a half and it's a good way to see where we've reached. I'm looking forward to it as a player and the whole team is anticipating the match. I'm sure it's going to be a great match. India will definitely give 100 per cent," added the ex-Kansas City Wizards player.



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