The brilliant Nepal that Indian spectators had seen under influential coach, Graham Roberts is a far cry from Krishna Thapa's Nepal. Usually the most technically gifted of all the South Asian sides, Nepal always play a sleek passing game that not only frustrates the opposition but at the same time is impressive to watch.
Strangely enough, Nepal at the Nehru Cup has relied more on long passes than the usual high tempo passing that puts teams to the sword. And the results are disastrous to say the least with two defeats in the first two matches, including the sound thumping against Cameroon.
Meanwhile, India under new coach Wim Koevermans has been on song right from the word go. They edged past a Syrian side easily, whom they were unable to beat in the group stages of the past two Nehru Cup editions ( although they did beat them in the finals each time ) and really showed their class in an inspired second half display against a fighting Maldives side that drew praise even from the opposition coach.
What Nepal have given up, India have gladly taken up. With the new coach's philosophy on short crisp passes, India have finally grown out of the 'hopeful long ball forward' rhythm that they were used to. Moreover, with inspired substitutions, the coach has really adjusted to the new surroundings in no time at all.
All this points to Nepal being handed out a thumping by India. Although Wim Koevermans played two strikers upfront in the second half of the Maldives match, he is most likely to stick with Sunil Chhetri upfront and will likely field an unchanged side.
Meanwhile, Krishna Thapa will have an headache for team selection. While Riteish Thapa will definitely get the axe for his sub standard goal keeping, and Bikesh Kuthu, in all probability will take his place. Jumanu Rai who had a fairly decent game will probably keep his place, leading the line.
India are already adjusting to Wim's 4-4-1-1 with Sunil Chhetri in inspired form leading the line and Syed Rahim Nabi running rampant on the flanks. Moreover with custodian, Subrata Paul back to his very best, India has little to worry about defensively too.
Krishna Thapa's one striker strategy failed miserably against Cameroon and he might again revert to a standard two striker approach, with Jumanu Rai being accompanied by Bharat Khawas.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- This is the 11th meeting between the two sides, with Nepal having lost all but 1 of their previous meetings, with one match ending in a stalemate
- Jumanu Rai's goal against Maldives in their opener of the Nehru Cup 2012 was the first that Nepal scored in any major tournament since Bharat Khawas scored against Pakistan on 6th December 2011 in the SAFF Championship.
- Sunil Chhetri is the star man on show and is the joint top scorer in the tournament with Bertin of Cameroon and Alshbli of Syria. All of them have scored 3 goals.
- Nonetheless, Nepal ranked at 162 are still ranked 6 places higher than India who are 168.
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