New Delhi: India were no match for Bayern Munich on the field, but the effort of the players and the noise of the fans at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on Tuesday will be a part of the memories the Germans take back with them.
Bayern came to India on the back of an intense week-long training session in Doha, and as such did not get a chance to see much of the country, but Arjen Robben said the team had no complaints.
“We had a very warm welcome after we arrived in India. It was a great experience to play here and see the enthusiasm of the Indian players and the fans. We had a good training camp in Qatar, and we’ve finished here with a good game. It was a good work-out for us and we could play good football. We go back satisfied now,” he said.
Along with teammates like Bastian Schweinsteiger, Philipp Lahm, Franck Ribery, Thomas Muller and Mario Gomez, Robben made the difference between the two teams quite apparent, but the Netherlands winger had some words of encouragement for the hosts.
“I think in general, the Indian team was physically very good. They have speed and strength. I think with better facilities, they can improve their game tactically as well as technically. I think it was a very good experience for them to be up against a top team like Bayern. They made a good impression.”
However, both the player and coach Jupp Heynckes felt it would be unfair to single out a particular player.
“We have a different level in the Bundesliga,” explained Heynckes. “A few Indian players did well, but it is difficult to judge them against a team which is playing in the Champions League. But it was great to see the passion of the fans. We came with all our first-team players and allowed the best team to take the field.”
The Bayern coach also gave credit to India for keeping the scoreline down to 4-0, even as he admitted his team eased off in the second half.
“We would have liked to score more goals. We could have had some at the start of the second half,” said Heynckes. “But India were clever in their approach, they defended well in numbers and were able to close the gaps. Towards the end, I think the team also tired a little bit, as a result of the strenuous training session we had in Qatar. But I am more than happy with my boys.”
The 66-year-old felt this game and the entire Asia trip would stand the Bayern team in good stead in the coming months.
“We had a very good training camp in Qatar, where we prepared for the resumption of the Bundesliga, and then we came here and had a good 90-minute outing against India. Of course, their level is not similar to ours, but it was still a test for our boys and we tried to do our best.”
“Everything is now geared up towards next Friday, when we play Borussia Monchengladbach in the Bundesliga. I think we are very well-prepared for the coming matches in the league and in the Champions League.”
Meanwhile, Robben believed the exhibition match could also benefit India.
“Hopefully it will inspire young people in the country to start playing football and hopefully Indian football will develop (in the future).”