KATHMANDU: A new day – a new start — a new tournament. The ‘Blue’ are all set to begin their campaign in the AFC Challenge Cup. The first match is against Tajikistan whom India had defeated 4-1 in 2008 in the final in New Delhi.
The general notion in the team stays – ‘India enjoys an edge,’ – a psychological edge to be precise.
National Coach Savio Medeira, declared: “The team is raring to go against Tajikistan. All the boys are charged up for the match. I am confident they will come out with their best for the clash and we will be able to secure all the points.”
“We will fight till the last second of the match. We would not give any chance to our rivals,” he confidently added.
AIFF Player-of-the-Year Sunil Chhetri, the captain of the side while speaking on the sidelines after the practice session maintained: “We have come over here with only one objective and that is to win at any cost. We won’t leave any stone unturned to achieve our goal. All the players including me would try to repeat our performance of the SAFF Championship.” The confidence of the captain was pretty much the reflection of the mood in the camp.
Picking the side stays the most challenging aspect for any Coach. Savio stays no exception. In any case, Karanjit Singh is most likely to
be the first choice keeper while Samir Naik and Syed Rahim Nabi are likely to be the two wing-backs with Gourmangi Singh and Raju Gaikwad the two stopper-backs.
The four-man midfield is likely to be manned by Anthony Pereira, Adil Khan, Rocus Lamara and Francis Fernandes while Chhetri and Sushil Singh are likely to start upfront.
Tajikistan stay 13 places ahead of the India in the FIFA Ranking would be wary of the Indian side. They are heavily dependent Yusuf Rabiev who is the all time top-goal scorer for Tajikistan.
The kick-off at the Dasrath Stadium is slated for 5 pm (IST: 4:45 pm) on March 9, 2012.
The match would be telecast live on Kolkata TV.
HEAD TO HEAD:
India: 158 Tajikistan: 145
AFC Challenge Cup – 2008 (Hyderabad):
India 1-1 Tajikistan
AFC Challenge Cup – 2008 (New Delhi – Final)
India 4 (Sunil Chhetri – 3, Bhaichung Bhutia — 1) beat Tajikistan 1 (F Fathkulov)
Total Matches: 2 India Won: 1 Drawn: 1
Goals scored by India: 5 Goals scored by Tajikistan: 2
From the History Book:
Sunil Chhetri stays the only player to have scored a hat-trick in matches between the two teams.
By Upender Singh,
AIFF Media Team