Playing Bangladesh at home in Friday’s SAFF Cup semifinal will be India juniors’ biggest test so far. The idea of sending an U-23 team to an international tournament was to give them exposure and taking on the home team in front of a holiday crowd at the Bangabandhu National Stadium in Dhaka will be a trial by fire.
“This is what we were expecting. The stadium will be packed but if we play at our level, I don’t think Bangladesh is beyond reach,” India coach Sukhwinder Singh told HT from Dahak.
India won their first two group league matches to qualify for the semis with a game to spare. Missing six players from the starting lineup, they lost 0-2 to the defending champions on Wednesday. If Sukhwinder is perturbed, he is not showing it. “We had no match practice before coming here. We improved in the second half against Afghanistan and despite a hectic schedule which provides for little recovery time, the boys did well against Nepal,” he said.
India will miss striker Balwant Singh in the semis the coach said the tournament committee explained that though yellow cards won’t be carried forward, red cards would.