Dice loaded in India's favour in U-23 football tie
The Sunil Chhetri-led Indian side will be hoping for a repeat, if not better, performance when they take on visiting Pakistan Under-23 team at the Bangalore Football Stadium here Wednesday.
India's 1-0 win Sunday was far from impressive as, given their domination, they should have won by a bigger margin against a team that woke up rather late in the day to send a few shivers down the hosts' spine.
India coach Wim Kovermans did not appear too pleased with the overall showing of his team where the only standout performances came from goalkeeper Amrinder Singh and the Goan pair of winger Mandar Rao Dessai and midfielder Joyner Lourenco.
"We were the better side for the majority of the game. We had very good wing play and the final ball needs to be improved. But it was a very good friendly for us to improve our game. We still need to improve on a few things," said Kovermans.
For Wednesday's outing, India, preparing for the Asian Games in South Korea next month, will be without their key striker Robin Singh, who picked up two yellow cards leading to an automatic red card.
Further, Chhetri himself is on one yellow and will have to tread on egg shells since his presence in the middle, which has proved an inspiration to his young teammates, cannot be over-emphasised.
Pakistan, led by Kaleem Ullah, did well in the second half Sunday after being on the defensive in the first session when they let in a goal from a corner kick. However, the visitors saw more action on resumption and created chances that they failed to convert, much like their opponents.
If anything, the Pakistani attacks often exposed the weakness in the Indian defence and Kaleem Ullah believed that his team has more than just a foot in the door. Whether they can action their plans Wednesday remains to be seen.
Though it is a so-called 'friendly' tour, there has been no lack of aggression and some physical play that was more in evidence in the second-half when the Pakistanis had the hosts under pressure.
It will be much the same on the morrow when both teams will get to play probably their final preparatory game ahead of the Asian Games.
(Posted on 19-08-2014)