India look to continue momentum against Pakistan

Bangalore, Aug 19 :  Buoyed by their 1-0 win over a dour Pakistan in the last encounter, India will look to build on the momentum when they take on the arch-rivals in the second and final football friendly match here tomorrow, before leaving for Incheon to play in the Asian Games.

India will start as favourites tomorrow, considering the plucky show they had put up in their previous match to get the better of a strong Pakistani unit. India fought hard to eke out a narrow win with 10 men sweating it out in the middle after the lone goal-scorer Robin Singh was sent off midway into the second half.

However, Wim Koevermans‘ men would not like to get complacent, while Pakistan would be desperate to draw the series. ”Now that we have had a look at India, we will strategise accordingly in the next match and believe we can beat India,” Pakistan Coach Muhammad Shamlan Al-Mubarak said. The hosts wouldn’t want to give any chance to the Pakistanis to get an early hold on the match that could prove detrimental.

India would be banking on their wing play, which is their strength but at the same time like to improve on their final pass. The hosts would also continue to work hard on employing counter-attacks, which according to Koevermans is the greatest quality of the Indian team. ”I think one of our greatest quality is the manner we counter-attack. There’s great balance on that front and we are working hard on it,” he said.

One aspect which India would be keen to work on ahead of tomorrow’s game is improving their defense. They had almost conceded goals on a couple of occasions in the last match. Once, Kalemullah’s header off a corner bounced off the post and in the last minute, a placement from Saddam Hussain agonisingly went wide.

India, once again would rely on captain Sunil Chhetri to create chances. His presence on the field is enough to put fear in the opposition ranks and raise the moral of the young players in the side. The debutants — Amrinder Singh, Sandesh Jhingan, Joyner Monte Lourenco, Shankar Sampangirag, Mandar Rao Desai and Seiminlen Doungel — who anchored India to victory, will be looking to put up a good show again.

Pranoy Haldar, who has played well for Dempo as a defensive midfielder, could prove to be handy for a relatively weaker defence. Narayan Das, find of last season for the national team, is an attacking full back and the opponents might find it difficult to beat this Indian player. Pakistan, on the other hand, will like to see their stars – striker Kaleemullah and winger Mohammad Adil – give their best, something that they couldn’t in the last encounter.

Kaleemullah, who recently signed long-term lucrative contracts with Kyrgyzstan giants Dordoi Bishkek, is the top-scorer in the Kyrgyzstan league with 17 goals in 16 games. Midfield dynamo, Saddam Hussein, will be expected to give the much-needed support to Kaleemullah.