New Delhi: If it's a memorable farewell for Bhaichung Bhutia, for his India teammates on Tuesday it's going to be a match to remember. They are all keyed up to match their skills against power-packed European giants Bayern Munich at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium. None seems to be bothered about the result, let alone embarrassment of the margin.
The high-flying Dutch club PSV Eidenhoven crushed India 7-0 at the same venue in January 1991.
This time around, the scoreline should not be all that staggering as the Indians have come a long way in recent years and should be expected to hold their own against the four-time Champions League winners.
Looking at the awesome Bayern line-up, with names like skipper Philipp Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Thomas Mueller, Frank Ribbery, Arjen Robben and Jerome Boateng, the packed Nehru Stadium should be happy to have feel of some magical football. A part of the proceeds will also be donated to the earthquake victims of Sikkim, Bhaichung's home state.
None in the refurbished Stadium will expect the world' 162nd-ranked to take the visitors head-on, they will all be happy if they can give their best. Whatever be the eventual outcome, it will be a huge learning experience for the young India side which is in the process of rebuilding in the post-Bhaichung era.
The Germans are diplomatic in predicting the scoreline. Schweinsteiger said: "It is tough to predict, it all depends on the opposition and their game."
For the Bavarians, the friendly against India is a part of their preparation for the second leg of Bundesliga that resumes later this week. Coach Jupp Huynckes, who is having his third stint with Bayern, said: "We will show India what it takes to play a top European side. This trip is a part of our preparation for the second leg of Bundesliga and it is serious business for us."
Though the Indian team is nowhere near the Bavarians but world No.162 can only hope to learn from the once in a life-time opportunity from Bhutia's farewell match. Bhutia, frustrated with injuries, retired for international football in August last year having played just 15 minutes during the national team's disastrous campaign in the Asian Cup.
For Bhutia though it was not the right way to end his international career but his farewell match against Bayern Munich was the ideal way to bring down the curtains on the illustrious career of India's most successful professional footballer.
Bhutia agreed that pitting the national team against the heavy weight Bayern Munich was not fair, but felt the team had to start somewhere if it wants to move up in international football.
"We should not look at the result. Such matches won't help the national team to progress but we have to start somewhere. It will surely be a learning experience for the boys," he said.
India coach Savio Medeira was forthright in admitting that such matches only look good for fans but not for the health of the football in the country.
"It generally takes two years of intensive training to prepare for such teams. But it is a life time opportunity for the boys and I hope they learn something from the match," said Medeira, after his last training session with Bhutia at the Ambedkar Stadium, which has been Indian happy hunting ground.
Medeira wants to try out some new faces and have included four new players in the 23-member squad. Churchill Brothers goalkeeper Felix, Sporting Clube de Goa defender Adil Khan, Pailan Arrows striker C.S. Sabeeth are the news faces in the side.
For Medeira, the friendly against Bayern also signals the start of India's journey to 2015 Asian Cup in Australia. India, champions in 2008, find themselves in a tough group in next month's AFC Challenge Cup, whose winner gets a direct entry in the Asian Cup. India have been clubbed with tough teams like 2010 World Cuppers North Korea, the Philippines and Tajikistan for the tournament that will be held in Kathmandu from March 8-19.