August 28, 2012; Kick-Off- 7PM IST
Jawahar Lal Nehru Stadium, New Delhi
Host India is set to take on a struggling Nepal side in the third group encounter of the 2012 edition of Nehru Cup. A win will almost clear India’s passage to the final whereas a win for the bottom placed opponents will mathematically keep them in contention for earning a place in the final. A loss on the other hand, will knock Nepal out of Nehru Cup.
Team News and Tactical Brief
Wim Koevermans’ men are considered downright favorites for this match as they walk into this encounter on the back of two impressive victories over Syria and Maldives. Indian captain Sunil Chhetri has led this side from the front in both the matches and is the joint leading scorer in the tournament. One does not expect Koevermans to tinker with the tactics that he utilized against Maldives and Chhetri is expected to start as the lone striker in the 4-5-1 formation.
The Dutchman seemed quite pleased after India’s win over Maldives and said that the passing game was the way forward for the Indian side instead of the long aerial ball style of play that was seen during the Bob Houghton’s era. The overlapping runs put on display against Maldives by Indian fullbacks Nabi and Nirmal Chettri were highlights of the match. Nabi is a certain starter against Nepal while Nirmal’s inclusion is in doubt as he picked up a knock on the shin against Maldives and was substituted in the 90th minute. If declared unfit then Denzil Franco will most likely take Nirmal Chettri’s place on the right flank. Raju Gaikwad has started for India in both the fixtures so far but the East Bengal center back has been found wanting on a number of occasions. He might pave way for his club mate Gurwinder Singh against the Nepalese side. Gouramangi Singh on the other hand seems to have left his horrid I-league’s form behind him and has so far done well for the Blue tigers.
Mehtab Hussain has been quite exceptional in both midfield as well in defense in last 2 matches. He has marshaled the team from center of the pitch and he is expected to start in his role as the holding midfielder on Tuesday. Lenny Rodrigues, Francis Fernandez, Clifford Miranda and Sanju Pradhan are expected to make up the rest of the Indian midfield behind their skipper Sunil Chhetri.
Robin Singh and Alwyn George are most likely to be used as substitutes and can be thrown into the play if the need arises. If Koevermans decides to opt for 4-4-1-1 instead of 4-5-1 then one might get to see youngster Alwyn George feature in the starting eleven.
Probable Starting Line-up (4-5-1): Subrata Pal(GK); Denzil Franco, Gurwinder Singh, Gourmangi, Nabi; Sanju Pradhan, Mehtab Hossain, Lenny Rodrigues, Francis Fernandez, Clifford Miranda; Sunil Chhetri (C)
Krishna Thapa’s men were given a footballing lesson as they went down by five goals to nil against Cameroon on Sunday evening at the Nehru Stadium. The Gorkhalis have enjoyed a lot of crowd support in their first two matches but they will experience an altogether different atmosphere in the stadium on Tuesday as they take on an in form host- India.
So far Nepal has not only lost both matches but they have also been outclassed in the Nehru Cup by their opponents. They will have to dig in deep if they want to prevent themselves from getting embarrassed against a technically superior Indian team.
Nepal’s head coach has his task cut out ahead of his side’s clash against India but the biggest point of concern for him would be the gaping holes which have cropped up in defence. With seven goals conceded, Nepal has the worst defensive record in the tournament. With India’s wing play improving with every outing, there might be another miserable night on the cards for the Nepalese backline.
Krishna Thapa made a lot of changes after his side’s match against Maldives but after his side’s woeful display against Cameroon, one wonders whether he has any cards left in his squad. A younger and a much fitter Indian midfield might prove to be too much to handle for his Nepalese side.
Twenty year old Sujal Shrestha showcased glimpses of form against the much fancied African opponents and he along with Jumanu Rai can cause a bit of a concern for the Indian backline who have let in only a single goal so far in the tournament.
Probable Starting Line-up (4-4-2): Ritesh Thapa (GK),Chand, Sagar, Maharajan, Chhetri, Gurung,Sandeep Rai, Silwal, khawas, Sujal, Rai
Player to Watch Out For
Syed Rahim Nabi (India)
Skipper Sunil Chhetri picked up the Man of the Match awards in both of India’s matches but it was the performance of India’s wingback Syed Rahim Nabi that earned a lot of praise from Wim Koevermans in the India- Maldives post match press conference. His unrelenting runs on the wings have been too hot to handle for India’s opponents. He has formed an impressive partnership with Clifford Miranda upfront and was the starting point of a number of Indian attacks. Both Syria and Maldives have failed to keep a tab over his runs and crosses and he is most likely to prove as the major thorn not just in the defense but also in the midfield for Nepal on Tuesday evening.
India 3-0 Nepal
India outclasses their opponents in every department on present form and it will be considered nothing short of miracle if Thapa’s men manage to salvage a draw against the blue tigers. On a whole, Nepal’s match against the hosts India could not have come at a worse time for the Nepalese team. With a win most likely to guarantee India’s entry into the finals; expect the blue tigers to go all out against their North-Western neighbours.