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AIFF president meets team in Dubai to boost confidence


New Delhi: All India Football Federation (AIFF) president Praful Patel met the national team at its camp in Dubai Tuesday to boost its morale ahead of the AFC Asian Cup in Doha starting Friday.

The team’s morale was down after it lost most of its friendlies by a huge margin and more than half the squad is coming out of injuries. The sudden departure of team manager Pradeep Chowdhury from the base in Dubai Dec 24 has reportedly created rift in the team.

After meeting the players following a practice session, Patel said: “We have nothing to lose in this tournament. The team has been together for eight months and has had good experience.”

Before Patel, AIFF secretary general Kushal Das and vice-president Subrata Dutta also met the team last week after manager Chowdhury left following difference of opinion with chief coach Bob Houghton.

Patel asked the players to put the past behind them and urged them to give their best and enjoy the tournament, for which the team qualified after a gap of 24 years.

India are in Group C in the Asian Cup and open their campaign against Australia Jan 10. India next face Bahrain (Jan 14) and South Korea Jan 18 in their last group match. India will leave for Doha Thursday.