September 2, 2012
Jawahar Lal Nehru Stadium, New Delhi
India will be looking to complete a hattrick of Nehru cup title when they face Cameroon in the final. The Indomitable Lions on the other hand, are the only unbeaten team in this year’s condition and will be aiming to seal their first title in the revived version of Nehru Cup. Cameroon will also be boosted by their 1-0 win over India in the final match of round robin league. Nehru Cup 2012 has been somewhat underwhelming when compared to the previous two editions and both teams will be hoping to dish out a good final to give some respectability to the tournament.
Team News and Tactical Brief
Hosts India will welcome back some of the players rested during their last match against Cameroon. Subrata Pal, who has been excellent in the Nehru Cup till now, will be making a return under the posts with Raju Gaikwad likely to partner Gourmangi Singh once again in central defence. Indian central defence has been a major cause of concern. Gourmangi Singh, who had been the most solid central defender for India in Nehru Cup, could have done much more to shut down Cameroon’s opening goal in last match. Syed Rahim Nabi is one of the first names on the team sheet. He is in the running for becoming player of the tournament and will be looking to cap off Nehru Cup with another consistent performance. If Nirmal Chhetri becomes fit by the time of final then he is likely to start though Denzil Franco will replace him otherwise.
Mehtab Hussain has shown exactly why it was a mistake to ignore him in past 2-3 years by dishing out some solid performances in central midfield. Mehtab has usually done the work of a snatcher in midfield while his passing percentage has been good as well. Wim Koevermans has been using two defensive minded midfielders to cover up for weakness in central defence but that has robbed India at times in terms of creativity. Lenny Rodriguez is likely to come back into starting XI and his terrier like style of performance will be important against the physicality of Cameroon players. Sanju Pradhan and Clifford Miranda are also likely to retain their places on wings.
Sunil Chhetri will come back into the team as lone striker and will be looking to finish the tournament with top scorer award. India did struggle to finish chances in last 2 matches and the Sporting CP reserve striker is their chance of breaking that streak. Francis Fernandez has been a revelation in Nehru Cup 2012 playing just behind Chhetri, a position rarely used by former national team coaches. Francis’ link up play with midfield and Chhetri has been wonderful till now though his finishing still needs to improve.
Possible Starting XI (4-4-1-1): Subrata Pal; Rahim Nabi, Gourmangi Singh, Raju Gaikwad, Nirmal Chhetri; Sanju Pradhan, Mehtab Hussain, Lenny Rodriguez, Clifford Miranda; Francis Fernandes, Sunil Chhetri
The Indomitable Lions had very little time for preparation while coming into the Nehru Cup but despite that they have done justice to their tag of being one of the favourites. Cameroon began with a draw against a weak Syrian side but has become stronger as the tournament progressed. Since their opening draw they have won every match, scoring nine goals and conceding just once. The Cameroon team which has come to India is not their first team but rather are a team which is termed as “Local Lions” in their country. It is an alternative national team which is made up with players based in domestic league and acts as a feeder to the senior team.
Cameroon is likely to line-up in a 4-4-2 formation. Custodian Ngome Lawrence had a poor start to the Nehru Cup after conceding two goals against Syria but has gradually found his form, like rest of the team. In central defence two players who didn’t start against India in last game are likely to make a return – Captain Paul Bebey and Abouna Patrick. Opponent central defenders have so far struggled to pick up the movement of Sunil Chhetri but both Cameroon defenders have been in brilliant form recently and it will be a mouth-watering clash.
Joseph Momasso has been one of the top performers for Cameroon in midfield. Against India it was his pass that opened up the Indian defence for the match winning goal – he has also found the net once against Nepal. 27 year old midfielder Kingue Mpondo was also rested against India and he is likely to be one of the most dangerous Local Lions players when the teams square off in the final. Mpondo has been a dynamo in midfield, having scored three goals. He has also assisted twice in Nehru Cup.
Ebanga Bertin is currently the top scorer in Nehru Cup 2012 with 4 goals in as many matches. Against India he suffered somewhat an embarrassment when his attempted Panenca spot kick was saved by Karanjit Singh. Bertin has already scored 2 penalties in the tournament and he will be looking to make amends for his miss in the final. He is also the favourite to clinch the top scorer position unless Sunil Chhetri scores at least two goals in the final. Bertin certainly missed his usual strike partner Kologny Merime against the Blue Tigers. Merime, who has two goals and one assist against his name, will be back in the final after being rested on Friday.
Possible Starting XI (4-4-2): Ngome Lawrence; Moundi Gustave, Abouna Patrick, Paul Bebey, Meyoupo Stephane; Momaso Joseph, Ashu Tambe, Makon Thierry, Kingue Mpondo; Kologny Merime, Ebanga Bertin
- Cameroon is yet to trail in Nehru Cup 2012.
- In each of last two editions India has defeated Syria in final after losing to them in group phase.
- With 11 goals, Cameroon is the most prolific side in the tournament.
- With 2 goals conceded India has the best defensive record in Nehru Cup 2012.
Players to Watch Out For
India: Rahim Nabi, Sunil Chhetri, Subrata Pal
Cameroon: Kingue Mpondo; Kologny Merime, Ebanga Bertin
Cameroon 2-1 India
Cameroon rested a number of key players and still managed to eke out a win against India in previous match. With a clutch of first team players coming back they are favourites to end India’s winning streak in Nehru Cup.