India vs China: Defence cannot cave in, says Pritam Kotal upon arrival in Suzhou
India defender Pritam Kotal says there is no room for complacency for the back-four when the Indian national football team faces China in an international friendly in Suzhou on Saturday, October 13, at 5.05 pm IST.
The Blue Tigers landed in China on Wednesday and were happy with the pleasant weather, hovering around 15-degree Celsius, in the city of Suzhou near Shanghai.
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Kotal though immediately got into the business, suggesting the defenders will have a big role to play during the game. This is the first visit of an Indian senior national team to China. India have not been able to manage a victory against China in their 17 outings for far. The last time the two teams met was in the Nehru Cup in Kochi back in 1997.
"Defenders will have a big role to play when we play China. We communicate with each other in the practice sessions and we have to be at the top of our games on Saturday,” Kotal said.
"We need to play more games against the stronger teams to tighten the screws before we land in the UAE for the 2019 Asian Cup. We are eagerly waiting to give our best in front of the Chinese crowd on October 13,” he added.
"It was a sorry case for me to have missed the match against the Kyrgyz Republic. An away fixture is always more demanding and I am already feeling the heat to give my 100 per cent," Kotal said. Referring to him missing India’s last away international fixture against the Kyrgyz Republic, Kotal felt away fixtures are always “more demanding.”
Meanwhile, Indian national football team coach Stephen Constantine felt the match would be a “good indication” for the near future.
"China are obviously a good side. They play some good football. Our performance against China will be a great indication of where we are and how far we need to go,” he said.
The 22-member squad is as follows:
GOALKEEPERS: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Amrinder Singh, Karanjit Singh.
DEFENDERS: Pritam Kotal, Sarthak Golui, Sandesh Jhingan, Anas Edathodika, Salam Ranjan Singh, Subhasish Bose, Narayan Das.
MIDFIELDERS: Udanta Singh, Nikhil Poojary, Pronay Halder, Rowllin Borges, Anirudh Thapa, Vinit Rai, Halicharan Narzary, Ashique Kuruniyan.
FORWARDS: Sunil Chhetri, Jeje Lalpekhlua, Sumeet Passi, Farukh Choudhary.
HEAD COACH: Stephen Constantine.