Ambedkar Stadium, New Delhi, India
28th July, 2011 – 19:00 Hrs
Live on Ten Actions

After getting robbed by the match official during their first leg encounter, India would be looking to go all out against their West Asian opponents in the deciding 2nd leg of the 2014 World Cup qualifier against United Arab Emirates in their own backyard at fortress Ambedkar, New Delhi tomorrow evening.

The Qatari match referee – Banjar Al Dosari, hogged the limelight for all the wrong reasons during the away leg encounter at the Sheikh Khalifa International Stadium last Saturday. Had it not been for Dosari’s harsh decisions early in the match, the outcome could have been very much different in all probability.

Although, India is totally a different team in home conditions, the horrendous decisions by the officials have given a huge cushion to the UAE team ahead of this second leg encounter.

Team News and Tactical Brief:


The harsh sending offs of Debarata Roy and Subrata Pal in quick succession early in the first half left a bitter taste in the mouths of the Indians football fans. However the grit and determination shown by Colaco’s men in spite of going down by two goals and two men, within the first twenty five minutes, was commendable. Indian goal was bombarded with shots from all directions and the fact that they conceded just a single goal from open play throughout the match says volumes about the character team India possesses.  A Herculean task is needed in order to overcome the three goal advantage which the visitors enjoy at present, but the display of the men in blue – against all odds, during the first leg has provided the Indian fans with a glimmer of hope.

It was pleasant to see the Indian team focusing more on a possession based style of football rather than the long ball technique which was on display during Bob Houghton’s regime. Expect them to display a similar style of play in front of their home crowd as India would look to score early in the match in order to strike terror in the defensive ranks of UAE.

There is a strong belief in the Indian camp that they can come up with an upset win. It was made evident by the Indian coach when the Goan at the helm of team India went on to say “If we can get an early goal, the deficit can be overturned”.

It’s a fact that UAE defensive line has a big physical advantage over the Indian forward lineup. Hence real goal scoring opportunities will be few and far between. A a lot will depend on how many chances Mehtab Hussain-led Indian midfield is able to create and how many of those Chhetri and Jeje would be able to convert.

India will have to be extra careful at the back as letting in even a single goal on Thursday will most certainly diminish their already bleak chances of sailing through to the next round.

Armando Colaco is most likely go in with an attacking mid field and might end up dropping Climax Lawrence after the dismal performance by the veteran midfielder in the away tie. Jewel Raja Sheikh, who played his part as a late second second half substitute in the last game may be drafted in to partner Mehtab at the center of the park. Syed Rahim Nabi, who played the role of make-shift full back after Debabrata Roy was sent-off, would ply his trade at the same position while Clifford Miranda might get the nod to start on the left wing. Talented Steven Dias will partner Miranda on the opposite wing and his dead ball ability would prove to be an added advantage for the home side. Dias is going through a lean spell of form of-late and he would have to pull up his socks at the Ambedkar stadium to help India overcome the UAE hurdle.

The biggest worry for team India will be at the defense line-up which will miss the services of full back Debabrata Roy and goalkeeper Subrata Paul. Especially the absence of star goalkeeper Subrata Paul will be a huge loss, but after putting on a heroic display on his international debut, Salgaocar ‘keeper – Karanjit Singh, provided some much needed assurance to his coach. However, it looks likely that Colaco will go for the more experienced Sandip Nandy as his first choice ‘keeper for this match.


The West Asian team walks into this match as firm favorites, with a comfortable three goals cushion over the hosts and unless something drastic happens one cannot see them crashing out of this World Cup campaign. However the fact that India defeated a much fancied opponent Qatar, just a little more than a weak back will be playing on the mind of their Slovenian coach Srečko Katanec; so do not expect the Arabic nation to be complacent when they step on the field on Thursday.

Traditionally they start with a 4-4-1-1 formation but this time around the visitors might play with an altogether defensive mind-set knowing that India will come hard at them since the blue tigers have got nothing to lose during the second leg. Former Sampdoria player- Katanec, might ploy counter attacking style of play as even a single goal will virtually decide the outcome of the entire qualifying round.

The youngsters Abdulrahman and Ismail Al Hammadi impressed at their home soil but this would prove to be the acid test for them with more than twenty five thousand fans breathing down their necks.

What will provide an extra kick to their players is a small fact that since 2001, they have never managed to defeat India in India. Ending this run of their poor shows in India is bound to ignite some extra fire in the belly of the UAE players.

TheHardTackle Player to watch out for

Sunil Chhetri (India)

The performance of the Delhi born striker could very well be the difference between a comprehensive victory or yet another early exit. Indian team is left with a mountain to climb in front of them and the absence of Bhutia adds to the pressure on Chhetri to perform at his best.

He has to fly, if India has to progress


He, along with shot-stopper Karanjit, were the heroes from the first leg for India. Playing in front of his home crowd has always brought out the best in him but never has India needed him more than this time around. Jeje – his partner up front is quite inexperienced and Sunil has to take up the mentor’s role to guide the young but talented Mizo striker. The task of making India qualify for the next stage depends heavily on Chhetri and after seeing the hunger in his eyes during the first leg, rest assure that he is up for it.

TheHardTackle’s Prediction

India 2-1 UAE

The Indian side has enjoyed its fair share of highs and lows in the past week which saw them picking up sensational victory over Qatar and following it up with a tragic World Cup qualifier in UAE.

Now the men in blue move to New Delhi. Ambedkar Stadium has proved to be a happy hunting ground for the hosts in the past. Indian team has got their tasks cut out but they can draw inspiration from the fact that it was at this vary same venue that they defeated Tajikistan in 2008.  India is expected to score a couple of times but overcoming the three goal deficit looks remotely possible.

Although, TheHardTackle gives this match to India by two goals to one, UAE is expected to walk a step closer to qualifying for Brazil with an aggregate of four goals to two.