India prepares for World Cup qualifiers

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src=' ' class='caption'> India's football coach Stephen Constantine ranks his team's chances as difficult but not impossible in the qualifiers for the 2006 World Cup.

updated: February 25, 2007 10:05 IST
  • Total Shares

Panaji, Goa:

India's football coach Stephen Constantine believes that his team has a difficult but not an impossible chance of going beyond the group stage of the Asian Zone in the qualifiers for the 2006 World Cup. The Indian team - which will be playing against Japan, Oman and Singapore - is currently in the midst of a training camp in Goa. Training is on in full swing as the Indian football team prepares for its first match of the World Cup qualifier. India will take on Singapore on February 18 at the Nehru Stadium in Goa. The training camp has 23 players including captain Baichung Bhutia and Ebbie Kodiattu, who is a 'Player of Indian Origin' from the USA - A League. "There are a lot of new players who have come into the camp and depending upon how they perform in the camp, we can develop on lot of areas," said Baichung Bhutia, captain, Indian football team. Bhutia, however, feels that his team is short of match practice. "Problem with us we have not played too many matches. After the Afro-Asian games, this is the first time we have been together again," Bhutia said. India has never gone beyond the first round of the qualifiers. The team was invited to play in the World Cup in 1950 as Asian regional representatives, but the fact that the Indians played bare feet went against them. Currently, India is ranked 138 in the FIFA rankings and with teams like Oman and 2002 World Cup hosts Japan also in the group, a second place finish will be a creditable achievement.