Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium, Doha
18th January, 2011, 18:45 IST
Calling Indian team the underdogs for this match will be an understatement, as Korea Republic is expected to run riot against the men in blue even if they field in a second string line-up. After being knocked out of the Asian Cup, pride should act as a motivating factor for the Bhangra Boys when they take on the mighty South Koreans in their final group encounter.
Team News and Strategy
In spite of the loss suffered against Bahrain, the Indians will be on a high after they registered their names in the score sheet not once but twice. Expect them to step on the turf with the same zeal and determination against the Asian giants on Tuesday.
This match could also see the return of Indian skipper Bhaichung Bhutia, who was sidelined due to injury to his calf muscle for the first two matches. Indian football fans would not want to miss this match at any cost because if one goes by the news doing the rounds in Indian camp, then this could very well be the last time when they will get to see their legendary captain in national colors. For more than a decade the “Sikkimese Sniper” has been the face of Indian football and has rarely failed to deliver at the time of need. He is at twilight of his career and would like to make a mark in what could possibly be his last major tournament.
Conceding too many goals far too easily in the very beginning of the match has so far left India on the back foot throughout this tournament and that’s something which the Englishman at helm should figure out before his team steps out against the 2002 World Cup semi finalists. Both Defense and midfield have been found guilty by failing to close down on the spaces at the back which resulted in giving a whole lot of place for maneuverability for the opposition forwards far too many time, especially on the right flanks.
Couple of the goals which India conceded against Bahrain in their previous encounter would have left Indian supporters flabbergasted as the defense on display in the first forty five minutes was appalling to say the least.
The only class act of display from the Indian side has been their goalkeeper Subrata Pal who has come up with some miraculous saves to keep the margin to defeats minimal against both the socceroos as well as Bahrain. Although he was guilty of a lackluster clearence which resulted in Bahrain’s 2nd goal, Subrata is expected to bounce back and return to his very best in the match against South Korea. Back four for India would have to raise their game up considerably if they want to lessen the impact of the onslaught which the Koreans will unleash on them Tuesday evening.
Formation: India: 4-4-2
Formation: South Korea: 4-2-3-1
Team News and Strategy
A draw is enough for the two time Asian Champions to progress to the knockout stage and considering their technical, physical and mental superiority over the Indians, this will be an ideal occasion for them to test their bench strength and give valuable playing time to the their squad members who have not had a decent outing so far.
Although taking India too lightly is out of the equation for Choo Kwang Re, the Korean manager, but yet he is expected to rest a few players from the team which he fielded against Australia when the Taegeuk Warriors take on the lowest ranked team, India in their last group match.
South Korea is a serious title contender and would certainly love to go into the next stage as the group toppers. Expect them to come with all guns blazing against Houghton’s men in order to improve their goal difference over the Aussies, who face a tricky encounter against the West Asians Bahrain, who stretched the Koreans to their limit in their first clash.
Choo is most likely o deploy a 4-2-3-1 formation with lung bursting runs coming from either of the flanks, keeping the already volatile Indian defense on its toes.
With the talented Manchester United midfielder, Park Ji Sung marshaling his troops expect the Koreans to go for the kill from the minute they set their feet on the playing field.
The 21 year old Ja-Cheol Koo has netted all the three goals for the South Koreans in the tournament and he would surely love to add a few more to his kitty against their weakest opponents till now.
India 0- 5 South Korea
The Indians have shown considerable signs of improvement in both their matches but expecting them to score one past Jung Sung-Ryong will be asking too much. The excessive speed which the Koreans will bring into the game can prove to be difficult to handle for an already shaky back line and these 90 minutes can prove to be a footballing lesson to the Indians. TheHardTackle predicts a one way goal fest on Tuesday evening unless Indian goalie, Subrata Pal, can come up with heroics to prevent an embarrassing scoreline, which looks highly likely on the horizon.
TheHardtackle’s player to watch out for:
Bhaichung Bhutia (India)
With nothing but pride left to play for, expect Houghton to name him among the substitutes if not in the playing eleven on Tuesday. His partnership with Chhetri has proved to be lethal in the past and when introduced into the match he can create havoc if fully fit.
Bhutia’s presence on the field will give a much needed solidarity to his teammates who have looked out of sorts in the first halves of both their previous clashes. Him being on the pitch is bound to help the others in settling down their nerves against their much fancied opponents.
Reports suggest that Bhutia is most likely expected to hang his boots after the Indian campaign ends at Qatar. If these reports indeed turn out to be true then this would mark the end of an era as far as Indian football is concerned and Houghton surely will not take away from Bhutia a chance to have his last hurrah.