New Delhi: India's chief football coach Armando Colaco is happy that the team is gelling well but injuries to striker Sunil Chettri and Baljeet Sahni are still a concern for him ahead of the team's first round World Cup qualifiers against the United Arab Emirates (UAE) later this month.
Armando on Friday again fielded the seniors against the under-23 team in a practice match that ended 1-1 at the Ambedkar Stadium. The seniors came from a goal down to equalise through Anthony Barbosa in the second half. Snehashish Chakraborty scored for the under-23 team in the first half.
The coach was happy to see the boys slowly getting into the tiki-taka game.
"Today I fielded Shilton D'Silva and Jewel Raja in the first half, but they couldn't get the passes going. But once I replaced them with Lalkamal Bhowmick and Mehtab Hussain the game opened up with short passes," said Armando.
"I am happy that the boys are quickly getting into the the passing style and are not going boom-boom. The boys came have assured me that they will work hard to adopt this style and that was very heartening for me. We don't have much time left with us but I am confident that we will get things going for us," he said.
The Goan lamented that Salgaocar midfielder Rocus Lamare and defender Khangembam Singh can't be travelling with the team as they don't have passport.
"They were good players and before they joined training I told their clubs to make sure that they have their passports. It is unfortunate that they will not be travelling with the team. I am also concerned about the injuries to Sunil and Baljeet but I think they will recover soon," he said.
The coach said that he would prune down the list to 30 from 42 probables after Monday's practice match.
Meanwhile, India's star goalkeeper Subrata Paul said that he has recovered from his arm injury and will start practicing from Monday.
"I like the mix of juniors and seniors in the squad. It feels nice to be among the juniors and inspiring them," said Paul.
Paul, who most likely will be India's No.1 choice ahead of former captain Sandeep Nandy, said: "Sandeep has always been my role model. I have grown up watching him and I am still learning a lot from him."
The Pune FC goalkeeper, who was the star performer in India's disastrous performance in the Asian Cup earlier this year, said he doesn't want to delve into the past.
"I don't think too much about the past. I am looking forward to the World Cup qualifiers. It is a new challenge for me," he said.
Paul also said that he will stay at Pune FC but is looking to try his luck overseas.
India are slated to play UAE in their away match July 23 and then will host them in Delhi July 28.