India fighting to make presence felt
After the spirited show against formidable Australia, India would hope to make an impact in the Asian Cup football tournament when they take on Bahrain in their second group match in Doha on Saturday.sports Updated: Jan 13, 2011 23:58 IST
After the spirited show against formidable Australia, India would hope to make an impact in the Asian Cup football tournament when they take on Bahrain in their second group match in Doha on Saturday.
Following a troubled build-up to the tournament which saw the team suffer heavy defeats in international friendlies, the 0-4 result against the world number 26 was better then what many had expected.
Bahrain are the least fancied among India's opponents in Group C, though they are ranked seventh in Asia and 93rd in FIFA charts, and missed out on the 2010 World Cup in play-off.
The match against Bahrain at the Al Saad Stadium tomorrow would be a great opportunity for India to make their presence felt in the continental showpiece event despite talismanic skipper Bhaichung Bhutia's absence, who is recovering from a calf muscle injury.
Bhutia is expected to play a part in India's third group match against South Korea on January 18.
Coach Bob Houghton will make some changes from the team that played against Australia in their opening match, to provide them rest for the match against South Korea.
"We can't play three matches with the same set of boys, they will get tired as you are running a lot. So there will be some changes. It will be a tough match. Bahrain are a strong team, having missed the World Cup in play-off, though they were dominated by South Korea in their opening match," Houghton said.
Head to head, Bahrain hold the edge winning three of the four encounters. While the first meeting between the two sides, in 1982, ended in a stalemate, the Bahrain thrashed India 3-0 in a World Cup qualifier in June, 1993, their last meeting.