Former India captain Bhaichung Bhutia is excited about India’s tour of Vietnam and believes the matches there could help the team in the run-up to the Asian Cup. The two friendlies are scheduled for September 24 and 27. The Blue Tigers have traveled to Vietnam to play the Hung Thinh Friendly Football Tournament against Singapore and host Vietnam. Twenty years ago, Bhutia was the captain when India won the historic LG Cup in Vietnam in 2002. The current two-game tour, Bhutia said, will be a good opportunity for the Indian team to prepare for next year’s Asian Cup.
“I think it’s great for our national team that they’re going to play some matches there. I think it’s going to be a good tour. Vietnam is a very good team. Singapore too. It’s going to be a useful experience for the players,” said bhutia.
At the beginning of this week, the AIFF executive committee approved the technical committee’s recommendation to extend the senior men’s team head coach Igor Stimac’s contract until the end of the Asian Cup.
The former Blue Tigers striker believes extra time will give both players and coach time to build up team spirit.
“It is a very wise decision by the committee as we don’t have too much time before we jump into the Asian Cup battle. The extension will help coaches and players feel more comfortable and give them enough time to build on what they’ve been doing over the past three to four years.
“So hopefully I think this game and the preparation for the Asian Cup would be much better now,” said Bhutia.
At the same time, Bhutia has urged everyone in the Indian football community to treat the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup with “the highest priority”.
The 16-team championship, where India is in Group A with the US, Morocco and Brazil, is almost knocking on India’s door and kicks off in 20 days, on October 11.
“The U-17 World Cup is a priority right now and it is very important. Everyone is looking forward to some meritorious performances from our girls. I think that should be the top priority as it starts in the coming weeks,” former captain said.
He added: “The girls now have to play some matches against good teams before the World Cup starts. It will give them the necessary motivation.” Bhutia also urged all football fans to attend and support the event.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for our girls in the U-17 team. The fans should flock to the stadium and support the team,” he said.
Bhutia said the six leading players on the executive committee will bring a lot of experience to the table.
“We should all work towards the development of Indian football. That is all we are here for. I would like to thank the Supreme Court for giving this honor to all six players because I believe we can bring a lot of experience and the right advice for the improvement of football,” he said.
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