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India takes on Jean Tigana's Fulham

last updated Saturday 22nd July 2000, 11:00 AM
India’s historical soccer tour of England kicks off tomorrow when they meet Fulham Football Club at the Craven Cottage at 3 pm local time (7-30 pm IST).

Though the officials call it a “goodwill tour”, the outcome of Saturday’s proceedings will have a lot of effect, not only on the teams, but also on individuals, as it is reported that five agents will be present at the ground to find out if any individual is good enough to play in the English League.

Captain Bhaichung Bhutia Fulham, incidentally, are playing their first match in the current season, and this will also be a “first” for Jean Tigana, the greatest mid-fielder that France produced in the ‘80s.

That the Fulham coach has taken India seriously spoke for itself when the securitymen accompanying the Indian team at the practice ground last evening stopped a person taking a video recording.The cameraman initially tried to convince us that he was just taking pictures out of mere curiosity. The actions of Fulham, if they at all sent the cameraman to the Keele campus, was not at all surprising, since everyone wants to know about the opposing team and it’s players.

From the Indian coaches’ point of view, all they have gathered is the information that Fulham have two strikers who are more than six feet tall and have scored many goals for their team. There are also a couple of players in the Fulham side who have had the experience of representing their national sides. Riddle, the former German international, is the key player of the team. The skipper, Coleman and John Collins are also players to be watched out for. Mr Al Fayed is also keen to watch this man at play.

Fulham are playing in the first division, but in England the Premier League is the top division — similar to the Calcutta Super Division, followed by the first division and subsequently other divisions. Baichung Bhutia is playing for Bury FC, a second division side. But the difference is that a second division team can come close to an FA Cup title.

The Indian footballers finally succeeded in avoiding a four-hour journey from Keele to the Fulham ground. After some serious efforts, the sponsors agreed that the Indian squad will stay tonight in London so that the players can avoid a long bus journey on the day of play.

The present Indian squad has been under Sukvinder Singh’s coaching for the last one year, and India annexed the SAF Games title, winning three games — beating Pakistan and the Maldives, and downing Bangladesh in the final. However, in the group league they drew with Bangladesh. In the SAF Games in Kathmandu, they lost to Bangladesh. Their last international tournament was the Asia Cup, where they lost two games, beat Sri Lanka and drew with Bangladesh. India will play their last match against Bangladesh on 29 July, but before that they will play their second game against West Bromwich Albion on 26 July.

The probable line-up: Virender Singh, Prabhjot Singh, Mahesh Gawli, Robert Fernandes, Daljit Singh, Jules Albert, Jo Paul Ancheri, Basudeb Mondal, Renedy Singh, Baichung Bhutia and IM Vijayan.
Source Statesman News Service
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