Huadu Stadium, Guangzhou
India slumped to a disappointing loss against Kuwait in the first match. Contrary to expectations, the young team performed well, earning praise from the Kuwaiti coach himself.
India lost 2-0 but the match was not as one-sided as the scoreline suggests. Kuwait scored an early goal thanks to a mistake in the Indian defence. Undeterred by the goal, however, the young Indians kept making inroads into the opponent’s defence. The central midfield pairing of Jibon and Jewel played exceptionally well while Abranches and Manish exploited the open spaces on the flank.
All of India’s endeavours didn’t produce any end result as strikers squandered chance after chance. The best chance of match fell to Jeje Lalpekhlua. Jeje couldn’t repeat his SAFF Cup heroics as he missed a one-on-one with the ‘keeper. India enjoyed majority of the possession but couldn’t make it count.
Coach Sukhwinder was left to rue the missed chances in the end – “We could have avoided the defeat. The boys played well and I am pretty satisfied with their performance”. “Sukhi”s job doesn’t get any easier, though.
Bruno Metsu, miracle worker with Senegal
India’s next opponent ar defending champions Qatar. Qatar captured gold in Doha Asiad by defeating Iraq in the final. The West Asians are coached by an eccentric Frenchman – Bruno Metsu. Metsu is most famous for coaching Senegal’s memorable side from the 2002 World Cup. Under him, the African minnows upset France and Sweden before getting knocked out in the quarter-final. His Qatar team was held to a somewhat surprising 0-0 draw by Singapore in the opening game.
The Qatari FA has been trigger happy with coaches in recent times. Another slip-up against India may bring down the curtains on his coaching stint.
India’s tryst with Qatar isn’t a happy one. The last time India faced Qatar, the match ended in a 6-0 thumping for the Western Asians. It was a qualifier for 1998 World Cup. Sukhwinder would dearly love to avoid a similar scoreline this time. India’s defence was shaky throughout the match against Kuwait. This will give Sukhi headaches; centre-back Rowilson Rodriguez suffered thigh strain in last match. There is a chance that he might not feature in this game.
India is likely to retain the 4-4-2 formation that was used in last match. Despite the loss in the first game, all is not lost. India can still reach the next round even if they lose to Qatar. There is a provision for four best third-placed teams to qualify from the group stage. If he fails to win, Sukhi would look to keep the number of goals conceded to a minimum. That way, India can go for it all against Singapore in the final group game.
Possible starting XI
India (4-4-2): Kattimani; Lalthalma, Rowilson, Ravanan, Denzil; Abranches, Jibon, Jewel, Manish; Balwant, Jeje
India in Asian Games Related Reads
India vs Kuwait
Team Profile for Asiad 2010
India’s past performances in Asian Games