A refreshed Blue Tigers look to return to winning ways, trying to take a chunk out of the Azkals who in turn aim to win away for their people.With the ignominy of suffering a trouncing at the hands of Afghanistan in the South Asian Football Federation’s (SAFF) Championship final still fresh in their minds, India will aim for a win against a stolid Filipino squad who take to field hoping to win the friendly and provide sporting relief for those suffering back home, in the aftermath of typhoon Haiyan.
The Blue Tigers have opted to ring in the changes with those players who have ties to the reviled Indian Super League (ISL), an initiative of the commercial and marketing partners of the All India Football Federation (AIFF), being left out. In their place come in the likes of Victorino Fernandes, Aibhorlang Khongjee and Narayan Das among others who have yet to make their national debut.
The onus will be on goalkeeper Karanjit Singh who has put in top performances in the past when Subrata Paul wasn't available for selection.
Also the Indian strikers, namely Sunil Chhetri, Robin Singh, Jeje Lalpekhlua and Victorino Fernandes, will have to raise their performances several notches high if there is any hope of getting a result on Friday. India have struggled to score goals in the past and much of the problem has been with the strikers not taking their chances.
The Blue faithful will look to cheer on their beloved squad who will want to claw back their faith and make amends after a disappointing summer at the SAFF competition.
The Filipino Azkals on the other hand are playing with more than just pride on the line. The coach of the national team said, “We want to play for the country and we hope to give something back to the people in such difficult and dreadful times, where for most of the people, especially in the central region, it is a big disaster.”
A host of changes have thus affected the squad with the likes of Patrick Reichelt coming back after missing an important friendly against the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Roland Muller, where the Philippines were trashed 4-0. Also, an important facet of the away team’s play is their sheer aerial prowess and guile which will cause the Indian team at a lot of problems at full tilt. Koevermans has gone on to say, “We will play the way we want.”
A chance of redemption beckons both teams with not just pride at stake. India will look to be a different beast with a fresher underbelly yet maintain the same structural composure with Arnab Mondal and the other remaining stalwarts providing adequate cover. The Azkals, a higher ranked away team will look to stomp their superiority and prove that the situations are indeed greener in the other phases of life.
Expect a riveting encounter.
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