. Trivandrum International Stadium, Thiruvananthapuram
27 December 2015
The last match of Group A of the 2015 SAFF Championships sees hosts India take on Nepal in their fourth clash of 2015. Both teams come into this match with contrasting results in their previous matches. While India defeated Sri Lanka 2-0 in their previous match, Nepal lost to Sri Lanka 1-0 via a last minute goal. A draw for India will cement their position at top of the group while Nepal need nothing less than three points to progress to the semi-finals
Team News And Tactical Brief
The Blue Tigers had a comfortable outing against Sri Lanka and romped home to a 2-0 win, which incidentally happens to be the biggest win for Stephen Constantine in his second tenure as the coach of team India. The going is likely to be tougher against Nepal who India have defeated only once in the three previous matches between the two teams this year.
Gurpreet Singh Sandhu hardly had to do anything in the match against Sri Lanka and should continue in the goal against Nepal as well. The presence of Stabek FC custodian under the bar has a positive effect on the back four which is likely to remain unchanged as well.
The duo of Arnab Mondal and Augustin Fernandes impressed in the Indian Super League with Atletico de Kolkata and will be entrusted with the task of keeping the talented Bimal Magar under check. Pritam Kotal who was awarded with the AIFF Emerging player of the year award recently had a good game against Sri Lanka and is expected to start as well. Narayan Das like the other defenders wasn’t tested by the Lankan attackers but failed to impress to with his crosses when going forward. The FC Goa left back could be replaced by Lalchhuan Mawia in this match.
It is difficult to imagine the Indian midfield without Eugeneson Lyngdoh these days and the Bengaluru FC central midfielder will once again be entrusted with the task of the leading the Indian midfield. Pronay Halder has come into the national team after a long ISL campaign with FC Goa and with fatigue a major worry for Constantine, Rowllin Borges is expected to start alongside Eugeneson in the center of the park.
Sanju Pradhan made some decent runs down the right flank in the match against Sri Lanka but his final delivery often let him down. The East Bengal winger is however expected to retain his place in the team while Bikas Jairu who come in as a second half substitute in the lat match is likely to start the match on the left side.
It is unlikely that Constantine will risk Robin Singh after the lanky striker picked up a knock in the match against Sri Lanka specially given the fact that Robin Singh has played a lot of matches this year. This means that captain Sunil Chhetri could start upfront after playing as the left midfielder in last few matches for the national team.
A lot was expected from Jeje after his impressive performances with Chennaiyin FC this season but the Mizo forward had a quiet outing against Sri Lanka and was caught offside on a few occasions. He would look to get on the score-sheet against Nepal.
Possible Starting XI (4-4-2): Gurpreet Singh Sandhu; Lalchhuanmawia, Augustin Fernandes, Arnab Mondal, Pritam Kotal; Bikas Jairu, Eugenson Lyngdoh, Rowllin Borges, Sanju Pradhan; Sunil Chhetri, Jeje Lalpekhlua
Nepal were undone by a last minute goal from Sri Lankan midfielder Mohammed Rifnas in the first match of the SAFF Championships 2015 and will be looking to bounce back with a win against India. Patrick Aussems, Nepal’ s Belgian coach is likely to deploy a 4-3-3 formation that he used in the match against Sri Lanka.
Kiran Chemjong is the most experienced of the three custodians in the team and the 25 year old looks set to start under the bar for the visitors. With Sagar Thapa and Sandip Rai banned for life due to match fixing allegations, the defense will be led by Biraj Mahajan. Biraj, a veteran of 50 international caps has been named as one of the leaders by coach Aussems and will be entrusted with the task of keeping Sunil Chhetri and Jeje under check.
With Rabin Shrestha injured, Ranjit Dhimal is likely to start on the right side of the defense. Ranjit had a good game against Bangladesh and will look to carry that form into the match against India. Highly rated 19 year old Aditya Chaudhary will start in the center of the park alongside Biraj while Jitendra Karki will complete the four man backline.
With Nepal coming into the match needing a win, Rohit Chand’ s role in the heart of the midfield will be very crucial to the team’ s fortunes. Chand carries with him the experience of having played for Indonesian side Persija Jakarta and showed glimpses of his talent against Sri Lanka.
Herman Gurung who impressed with his passing and ball control in the match against Sri Lanka is set to retain his place in the midfield while Jagajeet Shrestha who came in for Bikram Lama in the last match is set to feature from the start. Jagajeet Shrestha had training stints in Europe with VfB Stuttgart and Jagiellonia Bia ystok and impressed with his performance in the previous match.
Skipper Anil Gurung had a forgetful outing against Sri Lanka and failed to create an impact and hence was substituted in the second half. The former Shillong Lajong player is however set to feature in the lineup against India.
17 year old Bimal Magar who is undoubtedly one of the best young talents in the sub-continent at the moment and is also the most talked about Nepalese player. The youngest goal scorer in Nepala s history, Bimal has had trial stints with several clubs in Europe which include Anderlecht and Club Brugge KV.
17 year old Anjan Bista, another player from the Nepal U19 team, is likely to complete the three man forward line for Nepal. Anjan was Nepal’ s best player against Sri Lanka and troubled the opposition defenders with his pace and trickery.
Possible Starting XI (4-3-3): Kiran Chemjong; Jitendra Karki, Aditya Chaudhary, Biraj Mahajan, Ranjit Dhimal; Jagajeet Shrestha, Rohit Chand, Herman Gurung; Anjan Bista, Anil Gurung, Bimal Magar.
India 2-0 Nepal
Nepal are likely to prove a tougher opponent than Sri Lanka but given the sheer domination that the Blue Tigers enjoyed against Sri Lanka, it should not be tough to get past the Himalayan nation. The crowd is also expected to cheer the hosts which will give them the extra edge. TheHardTackle predicts another 2-0 win for Stephen Constantine and his team.
Blast From The Past
Here are highlights from India’ s 2-0 win over Nepal in the home leg of the first round of 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers.