Confident India ready for Myanmar in AFC Challenge semis

August 6th, 2008 - 6:07 pm ICT by IANS  

By Abhishek Roy
Hyderabad, Aug 6 (IANS) There is a certain air of confidence in the Indian team. They can sniff something big but are keeping their feet firmly on the ground on the eve of their semi-final clash against Myanmar in the AFC Challenge Cup here Thursday. If India win the tournament, they would directly qualify for the 2011 Asia Cup in Doha. But none of the players is thinking that far, and the team have set their eyes on Myanmar.

India and Myanmar don’t have fond memories from their last encounter, which was also the first match between the two teams. India defeated Myanmar 2-1 in a group match in the LG Cup in Vietnam four years back, the match ending in an on-field scuffle, forcing police intervention.

But four years is a long time and much has changed since then, as Myanmar’s chief coach Marcos Antonio Falopa suggested on the eve of the match.

The jovial Brazilian was happy with the way his team has performed in the tournament but rued that it would have been better if he had some more time for preparation.

For three Indian players, it will be their second game against Myanmar and the experience will certainly come handy. Captain Bhaichung Bhutia, Renedy Singh, Surkumar Singh, Mahesh Gawli and Deepak Mondal all played in that ugly match but only the first three players will be available for Thursday’s clash.

Falopa is well aware of Bhutia’s calibre and made it clear that the Indian captain will be well marked.

But before that, the Brazilian will have a tough time coping with the injuries to three key players including their lead striker Soe Myat Min.

Min has the experience of playing in India in the past. In 2004 IFA Shield final, he was a part of the Myanmar Revenue and Finance FC that defeated Mohun Bagan.

Going by the FIFA rankings, there is not much difference between the two teams. India is ranked 153 and Myanmar 164.

But the way Myanmar fought relentlessly against higher ranked North Korea despite being a goal down early on in their last group match is enough to get an indication for India what to expect from the opponents.

Having seen, Myanmar fight it out till the last whistle against North Korea, India coach Bob Houghton is not taking any chances.

The Englishman will not make much change to the side that beat Turkmenistan to qualify for the semi-finals but injury to his star mid-fielder N.P. Pradeep is a matter or concern.

Pradeep is yet to recover from the hamstring injury and Mehrajuddin Wadoo may replace him. But the Mahindra midfielder, who has a phenomenal record of 10 goals from 23 matches, is sure to come in at some stage of the game.

Teams:

India: Subrata Paul, Subhasish Roy Chowdhury; Anwar Ali, Surkumar Singh, Gourimangi Singh, Deepak Mondal, Govin Singh, Baldeep Singh, Mahesh Gawli, Syed Rahim Nabi, Samir Naik; N.P. Pradeep, Renedy Singh, Bungo Singh, Climax Lawrence, Ajayan Nair, Steven Dias, Clifford Miranda, Mehrajuddin Wadoo; Bhaichung Bhutia, Sunil Chettri, Sushil Singh and Abhishek Yadav

Myanmar: Oo Aung Aung, Kyaw Zin Htet, Nyi Nyi Lwin; Min Thu, Moe Win, Khin Maung Lwin, Htay Aung, Thura Aung, Han Win Aung, Aye San, Kyaw Zayar Win; Zaw Htet Aung, Myo Min Tun, Tun Tun Win, Yaza Win Thein, Aung Myo Thant, Soe Thiha Aung, Pai Soe, Aung Kyaw Moe; Yan Paing, Soe Myat Min, Si Thu Win

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