Kanchenjunga Stadium, Silliguri
19 November, 18 00 IST
After the disappointment of losing out the SAFF Cup to Afghanistan, the Indian national team was seen in action again past week. India shared the honors with a better ranked side, Philippines at the lively Kanchenjunga Stadium, Siliguri. The match saw Indians showcase a more than decent performance in front of jam packed stadium. India is now all geared up for their second friendly tomorrow against their neighbors Nepal at the same venue.
The Blue Tigers now would be raring to go against the Gorkhali’s after a robust performance. Many players have opined that they should have clinched a triumph against Philippines in the last match, if only some clear cut chances were not muffed. Win now has a daunting task on hands, whether to test a formula with new exciting players coming up the ranks or to go in with tried and tested folks. The latter seems to be a safer bet as and Coach Wim Koevermans has hinted at rotation of players.
We could see Karanjit Singh back in the goal for the Indians with Arnab Mondal marshaling the defense. The East Bengal center back is very good in air and also demos attacking instincts whenever called upon. The Bengali lad could be partnered by Raju Gaikwad, who was bought on as a substitute in the last match as well. Raju’s long throws always add to the nuisance to the opposition’s defense. Right flank could end being the responsibility of Denzil Franco, who had a brilliant last game, and Sporting Club de Goa’s sensational star this season- Victorino -could also be seen treading the right side of the pitch. Center of the park will be controlled by Lenny again, but we could see a change in the attacking facet. Dika Ralte has shown his prowess under Falopa this season playing in the middle, and he could be given a start, with Mehtab on the bench. Mehtab has been a little off-color this season and Ralte could be seen in the mix. Another lad who many Indian fans would love to see is former Viva Kerala prodigy CK Vineet. His presence on the left flank could add pace to the game, if he ends up replacing veteran Miranda.
Striking department will be headed by record chasing Sunil Chettri, who headed in his 42nd goal in Indian colors, on par with the legendary Baichung Bhutia now. He could very well end up surpassing the Sikkimese sniper in tomorrow’s match. Jeje Lalpekhlua, who replaced the injured Dawson Fernandes in the squad, could also start upfront after Bengaluru FC’s Robin Singh was reported to the team doc with a niggle.
Possible starting X ( 4-1-3-2): Karanjit Singh (GK), Denzil, Arnab, Raju, Gurjinder; Victorino, Dika, Lenny, Vineeth; Jeje, Sunil(c).
Key Players to Watch Out: Sunil Chettri, Victorino, Vineeth.
The Gorkhalis are currently slotted at 164th rank in FIFA rankings as they travel to Siliguri for another face off with the Indian side. Nepal side will be looking to continue from where they left in the SAFF Cup. This will be the first match after the SAFF Cup under their American mentor Stefanowski, who is very confident of his teams’ caliber. Citing it as a home game away from home, the Gorkhali camp is surprisingly more confident and calm.
Kiran Kumar Limbu is expected to be deployed under the bar for the red brigade with Captain Sagar Thapa leading the defense alongside Sandeep Rai. Rabin Shrestha and Biraj Maharjan would be seen as the full backs planning to make overlapping runs from the back. Both the full backs were a revelation in the recently concluded SAFF Cup, where the team was heroically ousted by the eventual winners Afghanistan in the Semi-finals.
The mid-field battle is expected to will be fought by Bholla Nath Silwal, Jagjit Shrestha, Raju Tamang and Bikram Lama. Jagjit and Raju Tamang would be the ones to mark from Lenny and co. in the middle as it was their nippy movement which troubled the Indians when the sides met earlier. Anil Gurung could be seen upfront with young Jumanu Rai troubling the Indians. Stefanowski would be very eager to try out combinations, but at the same time he would love to register a triumph and make it consecutive wins.
Possible starting XI ( 4-4-2): Kiran Kumar Limbu (GK); Sagar Thapa (c), Rabin Shrestha, Biraj Maharjan; Sandeep Rai, Bholla Nath Silwal, Jagjit Shrestha, Raju Tamang, Raju Tamang; Jumanu Rai, Anil Gurung
Key Players to Watch Out: Anil Gurung, Sagar Thapa
The match being on FIFA day, some precious points are up for grabs as both the teams look to win. The last meeting saw Nepalese clinch all three points to hand India shock defeat in the group stages, and India would be hoping to take revenge at home.
India 2 -0 Nepal
Indian team is on a high after their performance in the last match, and there was lot of passing to be seen. The lush green out field will certainly help the rhythm of the game and Indians will hold an extra advantage of playing in Siliguri just a few days back. Nepal would be coming into the match with hardly any match day practice and could face the heat of 18000+ supporters at the stadium.