Al Sadd Stadium, Qatar
July 17, 2011
After passing his first preliminary test against Maldives satisfactorily, Armando Colaco faces his second preparatory test tomorrow against Qatar before the all important examination against UAE on the 23rd. After doing pretty well against Maldives, coach Colaco will hope that his players put in another good performance against Qatar in their last preparatory game before the big match against UAE. India could have easily beaten Maldives in the earlier game had Jeje and Chetri not missed gilt-edged chances. According to reports, India’s strike force missed at least five decent chances which would have put the result beyond doubt, had they only been converted. Armando Colaco played as many as four Dempo players in the game against Maldives. The back line was decent with Samir Naik and Debabrata Roy working well on the right and left flanks respectively. Raju Gaekwad and Gourmangi Singh were solid at the back too. At half time Debabrata Roy made way for Robert Lalthalma who too made a good impression on Armando Colaco.
It will be interesting to see who Armando starts with against Qatar as this would be his last practice game before the qualifier, and he will want to try out his starting eleven. It was surprising to see the likes of Mahesh Gawli not featuring in the match against Maldives. It remains to be seen whether he gets a look in at the Al Sadd stadium.
Valeriano Rebello and Denzil Franco who haven’t had a look in till now may also get a bit of playing time. The centre of midfield almost selects itself not only for this game but probably for the big qualifier against UAE too. It’s hard to find a better pairing in India at the moment than Mehtab Hossain and Climax Lawrence. Both have been sensational this season for their clubs in the I-League- more so Mehtab who has been the engine behind the East Bengal wagon., Although Armando tried Peter Carvalho in the second half in place of Climax and Jewel Raja in place of Mehtab it will be unlikely that they will start tomorrow.
Steven Dias and Syed Rahim Nabi started on the flanks against Maldives and they were replaced at half time by Harmanjot Khabra and Lalrindika Ralte. Colaco may prefer to start with Clifford Miranda in this game as he has not had playing time. Also, he may toy with the idea of playing Peter Carvalho on the right as that partnership proved successful for Dempo this season. Sunil Chheri and Jeje Lalpekhlua will be starting up front.
Coach Colaco belives his side is adapting to Dempo’s style of possession play and is improving with each passing day. “We created chances,” Armando said after the game against Maldives. “The players have adapted to my style – possession football. We need to convert out chances. It was a match which we should have won handsomely.”
Even the Maldives coach admitted that India was a tough nut to crack and that he was impressed by India’s passing play.
After their juniors pipped their Indian counterparts to the post, the senior team will look to put one across their counterparts at home. Qatar will have a majority of their players from the team that played in the AFC Cup which they hosted in January. Apart from that a few youngsters who impressed in the game against India in the Olympic qualifiers will also be included. Qatar have a relatively easier fixture against Vietnam in the World Cup qualifier and should be able to put it across them. The Vietnamese though have warmed up nicely by beating Macau 13-1 on aggregate in their previous qualifier.
The game against India would prepare them well before their home leg clash on the 23rd at the Al Sadd. Since their brilliant showing at the Asian Cup in January where they won two games and lost one in the group stages, making it to the quarter finals where they lost to Japan 2-3, Qatar have played only one international friendly against Russia which ended in a 1-1 draw. Ideally they would have liked to play more games before their big game against Vietnam. They have been preparing for this game with a camp in Spain and they look raring to go. Hassan Al Haidos, after his superb performance against India U-23 will most probably start up front. Midfielder Younis Ali who scored two goals in the Asia Cup will also have a big role to play. Raju Gaekwad and Gourmangi Singh will have to be on their toes to keep them at bay.
Armando has 90 more minutes to decide his team for the World Cup qualifiers. After this game he will be pruning his squad further to 23. Players like Valeriano Rebello, Peter Carvalho and Harmanjhot Khabra will want to make one last impression before the squad is selected. Armando has probably already selected his team for UAE. Maybe this will be the game where he tries out his full strength squad and prepares them for the big test ahead.
Qatar 2-1 India