SPORT

Turkmenistan unhappy with ground and food

NEW DELHI APRIL 15. An unkempt ground with wild overgrowth, a hostel-type facility swarming with mosquitoes and a mess with a standard menu. This is what the Turkmenistan national team is enduring in its preparation for the second leg of the Olympic qualifier against India to be played on Saturday.

"The condition of the ground allotted for practice is pathetic and the food is also not good,'' said Turkmenistan's chief coach Rovshan Muhadov.

Speaking through an interpreter, Muhadov said they were expecting much better facilities than what has been provided to them. The team has been staying at the United Services Institute (USI) in Vasant Vihar and practised at the Central Secretariat ground.

The All India Football Federation (AIFF) on its part maintained that the visitors had arrived much ahead of schedule and it was left to scramble for the facilities.

Having landed in Delhi, Turkmenistan plans to practise here till Wednesday before leaving for Goa on Thursday afternoon. India is in a difficult position after having lost its away match 0-2 in Ashgabat on April 5. The host has to win by at least a 3-0 margin to be able to make it to the second round against Malaysia.

Muhadov, however, dispelled any fears of hot weather affecting his team's performance. "The climate here is more or less the same as what we are used to, at least in terms of temperature, so we are not very concerned,'' he said.

The team, he said, was building up nicely, especially after making its forgettable debut at the Busan Asian Games last November. "We beat India at home, after having lost to the same team in Busan. That is more heartening,'' he added.

Team captain Azat Muhadov said though India was rated much higher than Turkmenistan, it would be his ambition to beat India in India.

Azat also concurred with his father and coach saying the facilities could have been better.

The Central Secretariat ground was booked for five days in this week by Shastri Club. AIFF in turn sought the ground when Turkmenistan arrived, without realising that the club had not booked the ground for Tuesday, it being a National holiday.

So when the team arrived on Tuesday, the ground staff objected. The AIFF had to intervene and get the issue resolved before it could cause any embarrassment to the visitors.

Later in the evening, the visitors played a practice match with Shastri Club, which had to assemble its team at the eleventh hour as there was no practice scheduled for the day.

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