Kochi: Senior players Sunil Chhetri, Syed Rahim Nabi along with their coach Wim Koevermans were among the first batch of players who arrived here for national team's International Friendly against Palestine on February 6.
Among others, Sandip Nandy, Lenny Rodrigues, Denzil Franco, Nirmal Chhetri and Jewel Raja also arrived as did Assistant Coach Savio Medeira and the other members of support staff. The remaining members of the squad will be joining the team on Sunday.
Sunil, Nabi, Jewel and Nirmal Chhetri were even part of a light training session at the Nehru Stadium late afternoon.
"It's a wonderful feeling for any coach to see his boys assembling again. They head into Kochi straight from the I-League and we intend to make use of the next few days ahead of our match against Palestine," Koevermans said.
Sunil, who landed in New Delhi on Friday afternoon from Portugal, looked fresh despite having travelled "almost half of the World" in the last 24 hours.
"I expect a huge football loving crowd cheering us against Palestine on the 6th," the Indian captain stated.
"It's exciting to meet my teammates once again. Obviously, we cross our paths in the I-League every week but the National Camp is above everything," Nabi maintained.
"Expectations run high after our Nehru Cup triumph and we are looking forward for the match against Palestine," he added. "And you only get to meet Sunil in the National Camp," he joked as everyone burst into a hearty laugh.
"I've heard about the football tradition of Kerala," Koevermans added.
Veteran goalkeeper Sandip Nandy, who has been summoned for the Friendly, said "the call-up has served as the biggest motivation for him. This is perhaps the biggest motivation a player can ever ask for. I had been working hard and will be working harder from now on."