Defending champions India would look to protect a proud report and add a ninth title to their shelf after they face a tricky Kuwait within the SAFF Championship ultimate in Bengaluru on Tuesday.
India had been stretched to a penalty shootout by Lebanon within the semifinals earlier than profitable 4-2, whereas Kuwait needed to wait until additional time to eke out a 1-0 victory over Bangladesh.
In truth, this would be the second time India will face Kuwait within the event. They’d performed out a 1-1 attract an acrimonious Group A match final week.
India would possibly simply seem to have a slight higher hand in entrance of a massively partisan house crowd on the Kanteerava Stadium.
However there’s a worrying side. Will India have the ability to give their greatest within the ultimate after they had been made to toil for 2 matches in succession?
India assistant coach Mahesh Gawli sought to allay such considerations.
I would prefer to say that when you get one week, you possibly can’t do something. However while you get one month or extra you’re employed extra on health,” mentioned Gawli.
I believe we had nearly 50 days. Our energy and conditioning coach, Luka Radman, has finished a beautiful job. We now have seen our gamers enjoying with out accidents, and there have been no cramps as effectively.
Within the ultimate, India can even be boosted by the return of key defender Sandesh Jhingan. He had missed the semifinal towards Lebanon owing to 2 collected yellow playing cards towards Pakistan and Kuwait.
Anwar Ali had changed Jhingan within the line-up towards Lebanon within the semifinals, and he did a superb job in thwarting Lebanese advances.
Head coach Igor Stimac can be absent from the India dug out on this match as effectively after he was slapped with two-match ban by the SAFF disciplinary committee.
Stimac had acquired his second crimson card of the event throughout the match towards Kuwait. Earlier, he was slapped with a crimson card in India’s event opener towards Pakistan.
Nonetheless, India, underneath the talismanic Sunil Chhetri, had proven a streak of dedication to rise above obstacles.
After scoring in three successive matches within the group stage, Chhetri was not capable of finding the again of the web within the semifinals towards Lebanon. In fact, he transformed a penalty within the shootout, however the striker want to make a heftier contribution within the summit conflict.
India would additionally hope that Sahal Abdul Samad, Mahesh Singh and Udanta Singh will proceed to be energetic on the sphere, feeding Chhetri with these dreaded crosses.
Mahesh, who’s normally deployed as a winger, was fielded behind Chhetri towards Lebanon so as to add extra help to the skipper. Gawli indicated a continuation of that technique within the ultimate as effectively.
We needed him to play there (in wings) and feed the wingers and Sunil Chhetri. He was doing that. We saved Ashique (Kuruniyan) on the left due to the physicality, and he was doing effectively. He was operating lots. We didn’t wish to change that, Gawli mentioned.
However the Indians know that Kuwait are a battle-hardened facet, and nothing lower than their greatest would suffice.