THE BLOG BY CPD FOOTBALL | The World of Indian football and beyond by Chris Punnakkattu Daniel

India ready to face Azerbaijan on Monday

Team India

Team India

The Indian national team lost to Oman on Thursday and is willing to display an improved performance against another higher ranked team, when they take on Azerbaijan in an international FIFA friendly match at Dubai’s “The Sevens” Stadium on Monday.

Savio Medeira and his team faced stiff criticism after the boys got hammered by the Arabs in the Omani capital of Muscat [VIDEO]. Savio was forced to field a depleted team due to several injuries and he missed the likes of star striker Sunil Chhetri, experienced allrounder Syed Rahim Nabi, defender Nirmal Chhetri and a few others.

“There were defensive lapses,” Savio said, while reviewing the match against Oman, who are ranked 95th in the FIFA World Rankings.

“We have to correct our mistakes,” he added with an eye on the Azerbaijan match on Monday.

But Savio knows about the expectations back home and the pressure to deliver, while the Indian team is preparing itself for the AFC Challenge Cup 2012.

“This is what football is all about. We need to be patient. The new boys will settle down,” Savio told. “But we need to be patient.”

It will be India’s first-ever match against Azerbaijan and the Indian contingent is full aware of the strengths of the team from the Caucasus region. Azerbaijan is ranked 109th in the FIFA World Rankings and they are coached by former Germany manager Berti Vogts.

“They are a strong side and we know they will come hard at us,” Savio stressed.

The Indian coach is yet to decide on his starting eleven for the match on Monday. “The intention stays to try as many players as possible,” Savio insisted.

But with India’s first match in the AFC Challenge Cup staying less than two weeks away, he may not be willing to take that risk which may rule out anyone from the AFC Challenge Cup.

The India vs Azerbaijan is scheduled to kick-off at “The Sevens” Stadium, Dubai at 17.30 local time (19.00 IST | 14.30 CET | 13.30 GMT).

There won’t be any LIVE telecast on television, but I will provide you a few LIVE UPDATES at