India will be looking to get back to winning ways against Nepal in their second Group A match of the AFC U-19 Championship Qualifiers at the Al Arabi Stadium in Doha on Sunday. India went down to hosts Qatar 0-2 in their first match.
“We have to keep our shape throughout the match. I thought we were excellent in the first half against Qatar but failed to hold fort in the opening exchanges of the second period,” India Head Coach Colm Joseph Toal said.
Second-half goals by Akram Hassan and Abdullah enabled Qatar to bag three vital points against India who were unlucky not to have scored in the first half after dominating play.
If winger Germanpreet Singh – switching flanks – shone on both channels of the pitch, Kumam Udanta Singh was his perfect foil. But what would not please Coach Toal is the bookings of debutant goalkeeper Vishal Kaith and substitute SK Faiaz.
While Kaith picked up his yellow trying to avert the danger on his goal and tripping Akram in the process, Faiaz lost balance and handled the ball inside the rival box.
“Tomorrow is another chance for us to play an international game. I have been saying this that the more number of matches we play at this level, the better we become,” Toal maintained.
A strong 4,000 odd people had turned up to get behind Nepal on Friday.
“It will be like an away game with Nepal getting so much support. But that’s the sort of games we look to play as that’s what international football is about,” said Toal.
“We have to keep the ball better than yesterday. I thought the first half was perfect but then we couldn’t maintain that in the second period. We need to keep the ball higher up the field for longer periods. That’s what we will be working on,” added the Brit tactician.
Talking about the opponents, the Coach maintained: “Nepal are a good side and were unfortunate in the first match to play with ten men for most part of the ninety minutes.
“It will be a Derby and we are looking forward to it.”
Nepal were reduced to ten men when the match was 33 minutes old, defender Bibek Pratap Panta picking up his second yellow of the night. But they managed to hold on to their slender lead till the 58th minute before skipper Sulav Maskey fouled his marker inside the 18-yard box. Turkmenistan’s Berenov made no mistake from the spot.
Kovusov netted the all-important winner in the 79th minute to dash any hopes the Nepalese had harboured of pulling off a miraculous heist.
“Turkmenistan was never dominating Nepal even with ten men. Apart from the two goals, it was not a one-sided contest,” opined Toal.
Nepal Coach Raju Kaji Shakya was all praise for India.
“India are a very good team with some excellent players. They were really good in the first half yesterday. We have to be on our toes against them tomorrow,” he said.
About the crowd support, Raju said: “I am happy with the way people have turned up in numbers to watch us play. The crowd support really got us going in spite of playing with 10-men for most part of the match,” he added.
The match at the Al Arabi Stadium kicks-off at 21.30 IST on Sunday.
(Report & Picture courtesy AIFF Media)