With a 1-1 draw against 10-man Bangladesh undermining their confidence, India will need to complete their task quickly to take on Sri Lanka in their second SAFF Championship match here on Thursday.
NS Indians walk into Thursday’s game after a disappointing standoff with Bangladesh, against whom he should have won considering that he dominated most of the proceedings and even led Sunil Chhetri’s strike.
However, that was not to happen and India are waiting for Sri Lanka’s game to register their maiden win in the tournament, which they had recorded a record seven times.
Blue Tigers head coach Igor Stimac has come under criticism for India’s failure to win enough matches in recent days and he will be under the pump on Thursday.
Despite the loss against Bangladesh, India can take their chances against the lower-order Sri Lankans, who have struggled throughout the competition, losing both their games so far, conceding four goals and scoring two.
The islanders have to finish their task if they want to move up from the bottom of the points table.
Chhetri had put India ahead after Vishwanath Ghosh was ordered to march early in the second half, before Bangladesh were reduced to 10 men. Yasser Arafat later scored for Bangladesh to put his side on equal terms.
The Indian talisman will try to score again and add to his tally. Chhetri is just one goal away from the iconic Pele in terms of international goalscoring and a struggling Sri Lanka will be a great opportunity for him to achieve another milestone in his illustrious career.
But if the team is to score full points from the game, it will need the support of others.
After the disappointment against plucky Bangladesh, Stimac said, “We ourselves are to blame for not winning the match.”
“We had everything under control, we dominated the game, and had a one-zero advantage, and even a one-man advantage.
“But despite all this, due to some unknown reasons, we started giving simple passes making unnecessary mistakes. And if you boost your opponent’s confidence, when you give them a chance, it’s over,” Stimac said.
The head coach is using the tournament as the last opportunity for players to play international matches before the start of the third round of the 2023 AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers in February next year.
India Squad: Dheeraj Singh, Vishal Kaith, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Pritam Kotal, Chinglensana Singh Konsham, Mandar Rao Desai, Rahul Bheke, Subhashish Bose, Seriton Fernandes, Udant Singh, Brandon Fernandes, Lalangmawia, Anirudh Thapa, Sahal abdul samadiJackson Singh, Glenn Martins, Suresh Singh, Liston Colaco, Yasir Mohammad, Manveer Singh, Rahim Ali, Sunil Chhetri, Farooq Choudhary.