press trust of india
Kathmandu, 4 September
Listless so far in the tournament, defending champions India take on hosts Nepal in their last group match with a semifinal berth at stake in the SAFF Football Championships here tomorrow.
India need a draw from tomorrow’s Group A match at the Dasarath Stadium to qualify for semifinals. But with the lacklustre performance they have dished out so far, it would not be easy for Wim Koevermans men to achieve that against a team which will have overwhelming crowd support.
Having opened their campaign by scrapping past Pakistan who gifted a goal and then almost being beaten by Bangladesh before managing a last-gasp equaliser yesterday, India never looked like a team which would defend its title.
The group is wide open and all the four teams have a chance to make it to the semifinals after playing two matches each. Nepal and India are on four points with a goal difference of plus two and plus one respectively while Pakistan and Bangladesh are on one point with minus one and minus two goal difference respectively. Even if India lose tomorrow, they will still qualify for the semifinals if Pakistan beat Bangladesh in the other group match which will be played
simultaneously.
This is so because India had beaten Pakistan and head-to-head result will be considered first in case their is a tie between two teams. If India lose to Nepal tomorrow without scoring a goal and Bangladesh beat Pakistan by a margin of two goals, then Koevermans’ men will be out of the tournament.
India would, however, begin as overwhelming favourites tomorrow if past history is to go by as they have won nine out of 11 matches the two sides have played till now with Nepal yet to post a victory. Two matches were drawn.
Match Starts: 3.15pm IST.