Defending champions India take on Nepal in the opening match of the SAFF Cup in Male, the Maldives on Tuesday. Missing regular right back Surkumar Singh with a hamstring injury, India are likely to move Dipak Mondal, who has always manned the inner defence, to that position.
“The boys are in good shape and we are looking for a good run in the tournament,” team manager Pradip Chowdhury told HT from Male on Monday. Just before departure, India skipper Bhaichung Bhutia had said that preparations, including the friendlies against Chinese Taipei, had gone off well, adding that should India play to potential they should keep the title. The team had a training session at the main stadium and most of the boys who starred in the Nehru Cup triumph are likely to figure in the opener. “The turf may be a bit slow but then it is par for course,” said Chowdhury.
India have very little knowledge of Nepal coached by German Thomas Flath. The former Schalke 04 junior coach, on a two-month contract, has helped Nepal qualify for the AFC Challenge Cup.