High on confidence after their commendable 2-0 win over Sri Lanka in their campaign opener, six-time SAFF champions India will now take on Nepal in a tricky group stage match of the South Asian Football Federation Cup on Sunday.
India have defeated Nepal once in their last three recent clashes while the other two have been drawn encounters, and it will not be easy for Stephen Constantine’s boys to beat their counterparts from the Himalayan kingdom at the Greenfield Stadium at Kariavattom.
With three points and a goal difference of plus two, India can even make it to the semifinals even if they lose tomorrow with not more than two-goal margin. Sri Lanka, the third team in the group, have ended their league engagements with three points and a goal difference of minus one.
On the other hand, Nepal, who lost their opening match against Sri Lanka by a solitary goal, need nothing less than a win. A loss or a draw for Nepal tomorrow will see Sri Lanka progressing to the semifinals along with India.
Nepal have come here without at least two key players, who were allegedly involved in the match-fixing scandal that rocked the Himalayan kingdom.
The good news for India is that striker Robin Singh, whose double strikes gave India a 2-0 win over Sri Lanka, is available for selection for tomorrow’s match as the injury he suffered during yesterday’s match has turned out to be a minor one.
“Robin’s X-ray reveals it is not anything serious. He will be back,” India coach Constantine said.
The Briton, however, would not take Nepal lightly.
“Nepal were unlucky to lose in their first match. They are a good side and tomorrow will be a tricky match. We are an improving team and hopefully, we will get the result we desire,” the Briton said.
Central defender Arnab Mondal echoed his coach’s views.
“Nepal are a tough team and we will have to be on our toes throughout the match if we are to get a positive result. They (Nepal) are very hard to break down, their forwards are speedy and tricky to handle. We have to remain switched-on at all time,” he said.
“Although it seems to be tougher fixture than Sri Lanka, we will play our game and will play for three points.”