Baljit, Karanjit set for debut against Kyrgyzstan | sports | Hindustan Times
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Baljit, Karanjit set for debut against Kyrgyzstan

sports Updated: Feb 17, 2010 00:41 IST

Baljit Sahni is set for his India debut on Wednesday when the defending champions start in the AFC Challenge Cup, against Kyrgyzstan at the Sugathadasa Stadium here.

Sahni, who returned to top-flight football in January after a road accident laid him low for over two months, is likely to start in central midfield with Jewel Raja.

With Baldeep Singh, Jagpreet Singh and Manish Mahtani out due to injury, India's midfield will have a different look from the one that played in the SAFF Cup in Dhaka, in December.

Goalkeeper Karanjit Singh too is likely to play his first match in India colours as Arindam Bhattacharya is away on senior national team duty in Dubai.

"Physically and technically we would be up against opponents markedly different from those we played in Bangladesh (in the SAFF Cup) and we have prepared accordingly," India coach Sukhwinder Singh said on Tuesday.

Sukhwinder also said India's group, which also has Turkmenistan and North Korea, is tougher of the two. Kyrgyzstan have brought a strong side with the aim to at least reach the final in the eight-team tournament whose winners will also get a berth for 2011 AFC Asian Cup in Doha. India have qualified for the 2011 finals by virtue of winning the 2008 AFC Challenge Cup.

"Most of the players were in the SAFF Cup winning side. They are inexperienced but it is good opportunity for them to play against technically better sides. We are building a team for the Asian Games (in November) and are looking forward to doing well here," Sukhwinder said.