After a disappointing opener to their Saff Cup campaign, hosts and defending champions India will hope for an easier outing against an Under-19 players-dominated Bhutan, who were thrashed 3-0 by Sri Lanka on Saturday, at the Jawahar Lal Nehru Stadium here on Monday.
“The 1-1 draw was not ideal and puts a little pressure on us but I don’t think it will be a big problem for the match against Bhutan. The boys cannot afford to be complacent and I’m sure they won’t be,” said India coach Savio Medeira.
“It’s a question of attitude, the sort we had against Malaysia when we played them last month, and they have to step up tomorrow.”
Asked if he would try and go with a more attacking 4-3-3 over the preferred 4-4-2 for Monday’s tie, Medeira said, “Time is too short to experiment with systems because it is a tournament and there has not even been much time to prepare.
“I can’t change strategies for a particular day but we will be attacking much more than we did against Afghanistan as the question of goal-difference arises.”
Right-back Samir Naik is doubtful with an ankle injury and either East Bengal’s Nirmal Chhetri or United Sikkim’s Govin Singh will take his place. When questioned about the midfield that was not up to the mark in the Group A opener, Medeira said, “There will be changes in that department, Sheikh Jewel is an option, but I can only say for sure tomorrow morning.
“There won’t be changes upfront as Sunil (Chhetri) and Jeje (Lalpekhlua) have performed very well.”
Didn’t play well, says Chhetri
The diminutive Indian forward, who just returned from trials at Scottish giants Rangers FC with strike partner Lalpekhlua, sounded confident about India’s chances against Bhutan after the practice session at the Ambedkar Stadium.
“We didn’t play well against Afghanistan, the entire team and myself. We were not up to the mark and that needs to change tomorrow,” said the 27-year-old Mohun Bagan forward.
He added that he had not heard from the Glasgow club about whether he had made the cut or not.
“It was a great experience even though it was just a four-day trial. It was not pointless because even the Japanese and Korean players had difficulties in the beginning but it’s when the Nakamuras and Nakatas made it there that it became easier for the others. Hopefully it will be the same for us,” he said.