India football team jet in for Asia Cup preparations


Staff member

Dubai: A 37-member strong Indian football contingent landed late Monday night at Dubai International Airport to commence their month-long preparations for January's Asian Cup that will be held in neighbouring Qatar.

Chief coach Bob Houghton had already travelled from South Africa earlier yesterday and checked into the team's official hotel in Bur Dubai.

The rest of the members, including 30 players and the rest of the supporting staff flew in later last night from New Delhi.

Skipper Baichung Bhutia and star striker Sunil Chetri are also among the players who joined the squad in New Delhi on Sunday before making the trip to Dubai. The Indian team will train at the Al Wasl Club daily starting today.

Attempts are also being made to confirm between six to eight friendlies with clubs and other neighbouring countries during their stay here.

"This is not the first time that the Indian team has chosen Dubai as its training destination," Gulf International Promotion's (GIP) Raul Fernandes told Gulf News.

"All of them love the appeal of Dubai along with the excellent training facilities here. The added bonus will be the acclimatisation factor as they prepare for the Asian Cup to be played in Qatar in January 2011."

While the morning sessions will be dedicated for on-field activity and training the evenings will be used for gymnasium training by the Indian team.

Short break

With the UAE Football taking a short break to accommodate international activity including the Asian Games in China this month, a lot of the local clubs have confirmed their friendly matches against the Indian team. First up is Abu Dhabi's Bani Yas who are among the early league leaders, along with first division sides Hatta Club and Fujairah Club.

"There will be friendly matches against other countries, but these will be made known only after they are confirmed," Fernandes said.