Defending champions India take on the Maldives tonight in their second match of the 2012 Nehru Cup at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi. After the opening win against Syria, the hosts hope to continue their winning run but the Maldives themselves started the tournament with a win against Nepal. “Past is past. The match against Syria is past at the moment,” stressed Koevermans in the Team Meeting yesterday. “If you think about Syria, you will stumble. Maldives boast of some good players who can make a difference,” was Koevermans’ study of Maldives after their game against Nepal.
The islanders could be a real threat to the Men in Blue. The Maldives showed glimpses of what they are capable off under difficult underfoot conditions. Especially, Maldives star Ali Ashfaq, with his runs, passing and dribbling caused problems to the Nepal defence and proved why he is one of the best players in South Asia.
Koevermans on Thursday watched the match from the upper tier of the stadium for a better overall view and took down notes to be able to prepare his team in the best possible way and needs to ensure that complacency does not kick-in. Another win could take India closer to another Nehru Cup final.
“Wim Koevermans comes from the Dutch School of thought. So it’s understandable, he will try to implement the same in Indian football,” maintained Maldives Coach Istvan Urbanyi. “It’s impossible to comment on India at the moment. Rain played a major role in India’s first match against Syria. So I just can’t draw any comparison between this Indian side and former ones,” the Hungarian continued. “It’s too early to do that.”
“India are trying to adapt to a different style of play. It was visible before the rain forced a brief halt in their first match against Syria,” Urbanyi went on. “That we had many scoring chances against Nepal adds to our confidence. But at the same time, when you get so many of them, you ought to kill the match early,” he dissects his own team and their opening game.
And Urbanyi added about his team, “Most of my players observed Ramadan and hence, I’m worried a bit about their fitness levels. But at the same time, you need to remember both my debutants scored against Nepal. Abdullah Asadullah is just 22 (he was declared the Man-of-the-Match against Nepal) and Easa Ismail is a super talent.”
India will need to keep all this in mind as ahead of the match captain Sunil Chhetri spoke about a match plan which the team needs to follow.
Other senior India players also stay careful. Wing-back Syed Rahim Nabi said, “Maldives is a different match.” Central defender Gourmangi Singh adds, “We have had a good start. We need to sustain the momentum.”
That simply sums it up for India. Stay careful, cautious, keep the momentum going and play according to the ground conditions. Possession football will bring the team nowhere on the water soaked Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium pitch.
The India vs Maldives match will kick-off at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium at 19.00 IST and will be live on Neo Prime.
Published with permission from Arunava about Football.