August 31, 2012; Kick-Off- 7PM IST
Jawahar Lal Nehru Stadium, New Delhi
After securing the final berth, hosts India and favourites Cameroon are preparing for a dress rehearsal at the same venue with 48 hours remaining for the big final. Both teams might opt for a safer approach, this opportunity will be considered as a chance to test the substitutes and it will provide the much needed rest for the regulars before the mouthwatering final. Even though the match is considered as a friendly in FIFA’s ranking system, a win or draw will give India much needed ranking points against the higher ranked Indomitable Lions. Indian football team and Cameroon team are expected to go for a win to gain the psychological advantage before the finals.
Team News and Tactical Brief
Indian football team’s winning streak under Wim Koevermans was ended when a spirited Nepali side resisted the host’s attacks. After edging out Syria in a tight opener, Blue Tigers grew in confidence by thrashing Maldives by 3 goals, the run was halted by Spirited Ghorkhalis who were able to hold on to the much deserved clean sheet after being thrashed by Indomitable Lions in their previous encounter. India is sitting second in the table with 7 points from 3 outings same as Cameroon but edged out by them in Goal Difference. 3rd placed Maldives finished their quota with 6 points while the final position is out of reach for Nepal and Syria making the India – Cameroon match a mere formality of a dead rubber.
Tactician Wim Koevermans might be willing to tinker his 4-5-1 formation with a 4-4-1-1 involving youngster Alwyn George as Indian football supporters were eagerly waiting for his appearance in all the previous outings. Tipped as the future of Indian football, Alwyn might have to face the high expectations from football lovers and this match might be ideal for him to announce his entry without added pressure. Star striker and Skipper Sunil Chettri has led the team from the front and deserves a much needed break before the finals. East Bengal striker Robin Singh might start in his place while U-22 star Manandeep Singh will be trusted with a comeo towards the end.
Senior Pros Clifford Miranda and Mehtab Hussain might also get the some rest as Sanju Pradhan and Jewel Raja can make a return to the starting XI. Jewel Raja had an impact against Nepal and he will be trying hard to make his case for a starting role in the final. Sanju was dropped to the substitute’s bench in the last game after surprisingly getting the nod ahead of seasoned campaigner Anthony Pereirra. The duo will occupy the flanks against Cameroon supported by Lenny and Jewel in the middle and Alwyn ahead of them.
There were a few cracks in defence in the previous games and the experienced custodian Subrata Pal saved them on a number of occasions. Karanjit Singh might get a look in for this game if Koevermans decides to rest his No.1 Custodian. Nirmal Chhetri might get an extended rest after the niggle as Denzil Franco and the versatile Syed Rahim Nabi are expected to continue their responsibilites as overlapping wing backs. Gorumangi Singh is the mainstay in central defence while Raju Gaekwad appeared vulnerable on quite a few occasions. Gurwinder Singh might get a chance to stake his claims before the final as well. It remains to be seen whether Koevermans opts to rest Gourmangi to make the wholesale changes before the final as the games have came down thick and fast in Nehru Cup and a rest will do good for the players before finals.
Probable Starting Line-up (4-4-1-1): Karanjit Singh(GK); Denzil Franco, Gurwinder Singh, Raju Gaekwad, Nabi; Sanju Pradhan, Jewel Raja, Lenny Rodrigues, Anthony Perriera; Alwyn George; Robin Singh.
The Indomitable Lions had a difficult time in adapting to the strenuous Indian conditions marred by rain as they were held to a 2-2 draw in their first outing against Syria.Cameroon put their shaky start to bed with a thumping 5 goal win over Nepal which gave a good account about the quality of the young lions. They followed that performance by a clinical victory over Maldives to secure the final berth which avoided the permutations and combinations.
Cameroon coach Emmanuel Endumbe believes that they are making a step by step progress towards title. They have acclimatized to the Indian conditions by now and will use the dead rubber as an opportunity to test the bench strength of their second string side. Nehru cup might have missed established stars like Samuel Eto’o, Alex Song, Benoit Assou-Ekotto etc but Kologne Merime, Ebanga Bertin, Joseph Momasso, Kingue Mpondo etc have stepped-up to make their presence felt in Nehru Cup.
The Indomitable Lions are naturally gifted with superior fitness and athletism and it will not be a problem for them to make back to back appearances. Still the African coach would like to go for a safer approach by rotating the squad without losing it’s balance and shape. Ashu Tambe and Joseph Momasso might be rested to test Eloundou Charles and Ousmilla Baba as the coach will like to sharpen all his players before the final. Ebanga Bertin is the leading scorer till now but the coach might take a gamble by fielding Tella Nembot in place of him. As the lions have been improving day by day coach would like to keep the momentum going in this match by gaining the upper-hand against the hosts and their 12th man (Crowd).
Probable Starting Line-up (4-4-2): Ngome Lawrence (GK); Paul Kingue Bebey, Meyoupo Stephane, Moundi Gustave, Jean Patrick Abouna; Eloundou Charles, Makon Thierry, Kingue Mpondo, Ousmilla Baba; Tella Nembot, Kologne Merimo
Player to Watch Out For
Alwyn George (India)
The stage is set for the much awaited debut of Alwyn George; the opponents will be trying to play it safe without risking injuries and suspensions ahead of the final. Alwyn can float across the midfield with relative ease and his trickery and dribbles will be the one to watch out for. Defenders might take a laid back approach as final is secured and there is no need to take risk in a dead rubber.
India 1-2 Cameroon
It might not be a high quality end to end game. Teams will take a more cautious approach in this inconsequential affair and players will not risk injuries and suspensions.Cameroonians are looking more settled as the tournament progresses and their performances have improved in leaps and bounds during the tournament. India couldn’t outclass their neighbours in their last encounter. Indians physical fitness will be a question mark even-though the fixtures favoured their preparations when compared to rivals. With majority of mainstays set to be rested, this tie can turn-out in favour of Indomitable Lions.