'No time to experiment'
Defending champions India take on Sri Lanka, need victory to ascertain top spot. Tomojit Basu reports.sports Updated: Dec 06, 2011 23:20 IST
After the 5-0 drubbing of Bhutan, defending champions India will look to beat Sri Lanka at the Jawahar Lal Nehru Stadium here on Wednesday and hope to top group A of the Saff Championship.
"Every match is important to us and any team can trouble the other here. We are preparing for this game like how we did against Bhutan and it's a crucial tie," said India coach Savio Medeira after the practice-session at the Ambedkar Stadium on Tuesday evening.
"The first match (a 1-1 draw against Afghanistan) was always going to be difficult but the win against Bhutan has given us confidence."
Asked if he would go with fresh legs for the final group tie given that there's little time between matches, Medeira said: "Fatigue is a problem but it is the same for all the teams as we are all playing matches every alternate day. That said, this is a tournament and there is no time to experiment and try new things. We are giving the boys ice-bag treatment and will have a meeting in the morning and decide the final lineup."
The side has no injuries, with right-back Samir Naik who had been ruled out of the previous game due to an ankle niggle having recovered. A call on Steven Dias will also be taken after the right-midfielder had been rested in the previous group tie.
India left-midfielder Clifford Miranda, who had a good game against Bhutan, said: "The new midfield combination (comprising Climax Lawrence, Anthony Pereira, Rocus Lamare and Miranda) is good as they are all talented players but it will take some time to hit the right chord. It took us some time to get used to the ground as we had never played at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium but we are ready for Sri Lanka now."
Also on Wednesday, Afghanistan will square off against Bhutan and look well poised to progress to the knockout stages along with the hosts. Currently, both the Afghans and the Indians have four points from two matches with the latter on top of the group because of a better goal-difference.
Nepal, Maldives through to semis
Maldives booked their semifinal berth after beating Bangladesh 3-1 with Ahmed Tariq scoring a brace. Nepal were held to a 1-1 draw by Pakistan but progressed as Group B's second-ranked side. The game had been paused for five minutes due to a collision between Nepal's Rabin Shreshta and Pakistan's Muhammed Rizwan Asif.