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SAFF Championship

  • 3 September 2013
  • • 15:15
  • • Halchowk Rangasala, Kathmandu
  • Referee: H. Dilan Perera
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India look to consolidate their SAFF campaign with a stronger showing

Bangladesh - India Preview: Blue Tigers look to cement a semi-final berth

India look to consolidate their SAFF campaign with a stronger showing

AIFF Media

India take on Bangladesh in a Group A encounter in the SAFF Championship 2013 at the Halchowk stadium in Kathmandu.

For the Bengal Tigers, this is already a do-or-die game, as after being comprehensively outplayed by Nepal, another loss would mean that they would be packing their bags to go back home after the group stages.

While the Gorkhalis did outplay Bangladesh, Lodewijk de Kruif’s side were themselves to blame for the goals, with the coach himself terming some of their defending as ‘amateurish’.

The Dutchman though, refused to throw in the towel after that loss, and had expressed confidence in his players, and their ability to bounce back from that result.

Infact after the reversal against Nepal, de Kruif had stated that his team could not wait to get on the field again, while acknowledging the importance of the game against India and had mentioned, “We are eager and motivated. It was a bad day for us, but I shall motivate them (the boys). We will forget this tie, and focus on the next one.”

“It’s a do-or-die match for us. We will play to our full strength. India were a bit lucky against Pakistan. We know their style of play as much they know ours,” he continued. 

Their opponents, the Blue Tigers meanwhile, were quite lucky to come away with three points against Pakistan, in a game which their arch-rivals dominated for a large part of the game.

A spectacular mix-up led to India’s goal, and thanks to a good rearguard performance by Gouramangi Moirangthem and Arnab Mondal, alongwith Subrata Paul behind them, helped the team come away with a victory.

However they cannot expect luck to strike twice, and will be hopeful that Sunil Chhetri and Jeje Lalpekhlua amongst others come to the party against Bangladesh. If they have to go in the last game against Nepal, requiring a win, then India’s fortunes could really be in the doldrums.

 Wim Koevermans himself accepted the fact that the team’s performance was not upto the mark, but was glad to go away with all three points. He had commented, “Yes, I am not happy with the performance. We were lucky to get that goal and then pressure was from their side. But after that we kept giving away possession and then they (Pakistan) were able to play.”

However the Dutchman had warned that his team would only improve as the tournament went on and that he would look for nothing less than a win against Bangladesh, though he acknowledged themselves might fancy their chances. “Probably the fact that it was the first game in the tournament made them anxious, but I was confident we would get the result. I think we did everything right in defense, we put our bodies on the line, and final part of second half you could see we can play good football.”

 “It’s our second Final,” Wim Koevermans announced. “We are here to play five Finals and defend our Title. Bangladesh saw us play and will plan for us. They will come hard at us,” he added.

With the coaches of both sides known to prefer a pass and move style of football, it could be a good game of football, though the facilities at the Halchowk stadium might have a say on how the game progresses.

The stadium hosted its first game on Monday, and the turf didn’t really look that great, with players often losing their footing. Some of the players also lamented that the dressing rooms were very basic.

However neither of the sides could hide behind such reasons, if they come out on the wrong side of the final result. With this group being seen as a particularly tight one, Tuesday’s result will be pivotal in the final scheme of things in Group A.

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