Stage set for Bhaichung's last hurrah

Updated: 10 January 2012 16:42 IST

Former captain Bhaichung Bhutia will don the national colours one last time when the Indian football team takes on German giants Bayern Munich in his farewell exhibition match on Tuesday.

Stage set for Bhaichung's last hurrah
©

New Delhi:

Former captain Bhaichung Bhutia will don the national colours one last time when the Indian football team takes on German giants Bayern Munich in his farewell exhibition match on Tuesday.

Bhaichung, who retired from international football last year after playing for 16 years since 1995, will captain the national team for the last time, a job he had done for more than 10 years before his retirement.

The Capital's most high-profile football match, to be played at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, will see a bevy of international stars such as Philipp Lahm, Arjen Robben, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Thomas Mueller and Mario Gomez in the Bayern Munich ranks.

The result of the match though is a foregone conclusion with Bayern bringing their first team after their week-long winter training camp in Doha. Bayern have won the Bundesliga 22 times and the UEFA Champions League four times.

Bhaichung admitted that there was no question of comparing the national team with Bayern Munich but said the match would be an opportunity for the Indian players to find out how much they need to improve.

"You cannot compare the Indian team with Bayern Munich which is as good as the German national side. But it's an opportunity for the players to know how much they need to work on to take themselves to level of top international stars," he said.

"For me, it is just enjoying my last match and enjoying the moment. I feel honoured to play my farewell match against a top side like Bayern Munich," added Bhaichung.

Indian coach Savio Medeira was candid that his side will be rank outsiders against Bayern.

"The match will be one of the most high-profile one played by the national team. But you cannot compare India with Bayern in any sense. It is a lifetime opportunity for the players to rub shoulders with some of the best players and against one of the best sides. They will learn from the match," he said.

India will miss the services of Sunil Chhetri, who suffered an injury during the SAFF Championships last month.

Talking about the German giants' preparations, Bayern captain Philipp Lahm said, "At FC Bayern, we would like to contribute to the growth of Indian football. It is a great idea to play in Delhi."

French international and star winger, Franck Ribery is looking forward to his maiden trip to India.

"Football has taken me to places, which I would not have gone otherwise. I look forward to add India to that list," Ribery said.

Star striker Thomas Muller, who won the 'Golden boot' in the 2010 World Cup said, "A lot has happened since I visited India with the FCB second team in January 2009. I look forward to renew my ties with your country."

The Bayern camp is also upbeat about the return of star midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger after his lay-off due to a collarbone injury. Schweinsteiger is equally thrilled about taking the flight to Delhi.

"I am returning from an injury, so the India match is crucial to see how I have recovered ahead of a hectic second phase of the season," he said.

Midfielder Arjen Robben shares his aim for their Indian fans. Standing tall at six-feet, Robben said, "I know you love your cricket, but for 90 minutes next week we hope to show you quality football," Robben had said earlier.

Topics : Football Bayern Munchen
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