AFC Challenge Cup: India vs Philippines- Match Preview
India face the Azkals in their second group game here at the Dashrath Stadium in Kathamandu. It is a must win match for the South Asian powerhouse after losing out to the Tajiks in the first game. Both India and Philippines are bottom of their group while Tajikistan and North Korea lead the table. The latter two will play against each other before India take on the Philipines. If Tajikistan and North Korea draw their match, India will need to win both the matches against Philippines and North Korea in order to qualify for the semi finals.
Philippines are ranked just two places above India in the FIFA world rankings and lost their opening game to the North Koreans by a couple of goals. With 10 players from a European background in their squad, the Azkals are a technically gifted side on paper. Since all of their squad players come from different places, they naturally lack the team chemistry. Goalkeeper Neil Etheridge, who is an understudy to Mark Schwarzer at Fulham FC, will be a tough nut to crack. Phil Younghusband, who is a striker in the Azkals squad, has represented Chelsea at the youth level and was the leading goal scorer in 2003-2004.
The Blue Tigers face an uphill battle in this game but coach Savio Medeira remains confident of making a comeback. He plans to rectify the mistakes committed in the loss to the Tajiks. Rocus Lamare is in fine form and will be the key man in the defensive midfield department. It will be interesting to notice whether the India will choose to deploy the services of Jewel Raja, Vashum and Nirmal Chettri from the beginning. The trio started on the bench in the first match but a disappointing display from Anthony Perreira might suggest a starting spot for Jewel or Vashum. Ralte is doubtful to be fully fit in time. Abranches might have a say in the starting line up in place of the under-par Sushil Kumar.
Goalkeepers: Karanjit Singh (Salgaocar), Subhasish Roychowdhury (Dempo SC), Arindam Bhattacharya (Churchill Brothers).
Defenders: Nirmal Chhetri, Raju Gaikwad (both Kingfisher East Bengal), Sameer Naik (Dempo SC), Gourmangi Singh (Churchill Brothers), Anwar Ali, Kinsukh Debnath, Syed Rahim Nabi (all McDowell Mohun Bagan), Gurjinder Singh (Pune FC).
Midfielders: Adil Khan (Sporting Clube de Goa), Anthony Pereira (Dempo SC), Reisangmi Vashum (Kingfisher East Bengal), Rocus Lamare, Francis Fernandes (both Salgaocar SC), Jewel Raja (McDowell Mohun Bagan), Lenny Rodrigues, Lalrindika Ralte (both Churchill Brothers).
Forwards: Sunil Chhetri (McDowell Mohun Bagan), Sushil Singh (Shillong Lajong FC – on loan), CS Sabeeth (Pailan Arrows), Joaquim Abranches (Dempo SC).
Goalkeepers: Roland Richard Guaves Müller (MSV Duisburg, Germany), Neil Etheridge (Fulham FC, England), Eduard Sacapaño (Philippine Army FC)
Defenders: Roel Rowena Gener (Philippine Army FC), Jason Abbott Abantao Sabio (Kaya FC), Robert James Dazo Gier (Ascot United, England), Ray Anthony Pepito Jónsson (UMF Grindavik, Iceland), Dennis Mengoy Cagara (FSV Frankfurt, Germany), Carlie De Murga (Racing Club Portuense, Spain), Bongbong Roxy Dorlas (Mendiola United FC), Stephan Markus Cabizares Schröck (SpVgg Greuther Fürth, Germany)
Midfielders: Emelio Asada Caligdong (Philippine Air Force FC), Ángel Guirado Aldeguer (Global FC), Lexton de la Cruz Moy (Kaya FC), Jerry Ruben Lucena (Aarhus GF, Denmark), Paul Mulders (ADO Den Haag, Netherlands), James Joseph Placer Younghusband (Loyola Meralco Sparks FC), Nestorio Margarse (Philippine Army FC), Juan Luis Guirado (Racing Lermeño, Spain), Marwin Angeles (Laos FC)
Forwards: Ian Bayona Araneta (Philippine Air Force FC), Misagh Median Bahadoran (Global FC), Nathaniel George Payos Burkey (Kaya FC), Philip James Placer Younghusband (Loyola Meralco Sparks FC), Joshua Beloya (Kaya FC)