The AFC Challenge Cup was formed keeping in mind the emerging footballing nations in Asia. The AFC under their Vision Asia have formed this tournament. The winners of the tournament will get direct entry into the AFC Asian Cup. India has won this tournament back in 2008 and had qualified for the Asian Cup after 24 years. Indian football fans will be hoping to win the tournament this time too and get a direct slot in Asian cup but they know for that to happen they need to qualify for the AFC Challenge Cup through Challenge Cup qualifiers.
After Winning Nehru Cup Indian national team has failed to win a single International Match. The team has performed below expectation level against Singapore and Palestine. The team under the leadership of Sunil Chetri and Wim Koevermans will enter the AFC Challenge Cup Qualifiers against the host Myanmar and the likes of Gaum and Chinese Taipei.
Team India has shifted from Bob Houghton’s English long ball tactics to the Wim Koeverman’s possession football.
The team now has belief in their midfield and they try to hold the ball and pass ball within themselves. The midfield of the team has got some talented players. The experienced players like Clifford Miranda and Mehtab Hussain have always performed well for the national team. Especially Clifford Miranda is in the goal scoring form and has scored quite a number of times for both his club and national team this season. He will look to continue his good form in the AFC Challenge Cup qualifiers. The team will have good support from the likes of Lal Kamal Bhowmik and Izumi Arata who have performed consistently in the I-league.
Youngsters in the team such as Alwyn George and Jewel Raja have shown they got the talent and now it’s time to prove this on the International stage.
The team has been training together together for some days now and would have gelled well with each other. The team is experienced and will be hungry to prove their worth after a series disappointing results.
The team’s only worry in last few matches has been their habit of conceding goals. The defence has been the problem for the team. The slow defenders at the back are failing to stop the goals. In the match against Palestine, the Indian defence was exposed by the pace of Yemeni players. The likes of Gouramangi Singh have been out of form for a while. The centre back has not performed well for the team and his club in the I-League. Even though Syed Rahim Nabi has done well on the flanks going upfront, he has failed to close down the rival. These experienced midfielders on the team will have to get their act together and work their heart out at the back.
Players such as Gurjinder Singh, Souvik Ghosh and Denzil Franco have to continue their good run. The players have performed well for their clubs and will have a huge role to play in the competition.
Sunil Chhetri’s form is another major headache for Wim Koevermans. The striker is short of match fitness and has been below par in the recent matches. The captain has to fire in front for the team . The team has very less experience in the attacking department. The other two strikers Jeje Lalpeklua and Robin Singh have not been regular starters for the national team as well as for the respective clubs.
The team has grouped with the host Myanmar, Chinese Taipei and Guam. The team is favorite to qualify from the group. The other teams in the group have been struggling.
The Indian national team has players who will be keen to prove their selection has been meritorious. The likes of Lenny Rodrigues, Gouramangi Singh, Robin Singh have been criticized by the fans for quite some time and they will look to shut their critics. These players will take this golden opportunity to prove their worth.
The newcomers on the team such as Sauvik Ghosh, Izumi Arata and Jeje who have been sidelined due to injury will be hungry for the success.
The team will know that they have to acclimatise to the condition very fast. The team must have not forgotten the horrible performance of the team in Nepal where they couldn’t deal with the conditions. The team has new faces and will take some time to get adjusted to the climate in Myanmar.
India must not get complacent in these competitions. The team has shown their complacency when they play against a relatively weaker side. They should be aware that a small mistake could cost them the qualification.
The team will have to face the host Myanmar in their group – a side which has been known for their hostile crowd.
Indian team has been suffering in the past because of the fitness level of the players. The team has to work hard to stay fit throughout the tournament. The team is already missing a few key players due to injury in the training camp.
Wim Koevermans has worked hard for the team and now it’s up to the players to show some results. The coach will be well aware that the matches but he will have to get the task cut out for the players and ensure they deliver when it matters the most.