For Wim Koevermans, representing the tri-colour is as important as playing for national pride and securing a win on the field. The Dutch coach of the Indian national football team is a busy man, trying to motivate the players ahead of a friendly against Palestine.
There are several new additions to the team - Sandip Nandy, Lalkamal Bhowmick, Arata Izumi, Shouvik Ghosh, CK Vineet and Gurjinder Kumar - but for Koevermans, it is all about getting the extra edge. And he will need every bit of it against a stoic Palestine team. "Palestine look a very competent side. Nine of their players who had done duty in the West Asia Cup in December 2012 are in the squad. We have watched them in videos and they are a powerful side," he said on Tuesday, a day before the match at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium n Kochi.
The Indian players have been training hard under the watchful gaze of their 52-year-old coach. While Sunil Chhetri had earlier said that a packed home stadium will help them in the match against Palestine, the team is not leaving much to chance or the vocal abilities of the local supporters.
The players and Kovermans are up early each day, sweating it out on the field and in the gym. A close eye is kept on message sessions and care is taken against minute niggles which always have the potential of becoming major causes of concern. "Teamwork is very important. Help each other. The transition to defend stays most significant. It's not only about what you do with the ball but what you do when you don't have it," is what the coach has been advising his players. He also doesn't forget to remind them of playing with a patriotic spirit. "You belong to the National Team. The pride and passion of representing your country is what you have to feel for yourselves."
The visitors too are aware that a determined Indian unit can leave them stunned. "India are a capable side. We are happy to be in India. It will be an interesting match," said coach Jamal Mahmoud Abed Mahmoud Pass.
The match will start at 6:30 pm and will be broadcast live.