The most coveted event for Indian Football the Asia Cup set to arrive the preparations has been in full swing with the team planning to be together for around a period of 6 months as part of preparations. An International match to be played in the Balewadi stadium for the first time against FIFA ranking 102nd team Hong Kong; India has reached the final level of the preparations. With less than 24 hours left for the match the whole eye is on Bob Houghton and the team to see weather India can win against higher ranked teams.
The earlier friendlies against the Portuguese third division teams at the training camp at Portugal had been quite good. Then later the international friendly against Thailand was not a great result for India losing both home and away matches. Despite of the defeat the coach was happy with the team’s home performance. Then team slated a 2-0 victory against the physically strong side Namibia was a good win at the home soil. The team is full of high spirit to register a win in the first match at the Balewadi Stadium.
The coach Bob Houghton must be under some problem with some of the senior players doubtful for the match due to injury; the players namely Bhaichung Bhutia, Mohammed Rafi, Mahesh Gawli, Samir Naik, Steven Dias and N. P. Pradeep. There is even some relief as the Dempo FC winger Anthony Pereira seems to be in good form.
The teams when previously met in 2006 and 2009 the match ended up with a score line of 2-2 and India losing 2-1 respectively. The Hong Kong team will be without their key players Lee Chi-ho, Cheung Kin-Fung, Lee Wai Lim and Yiu Chook Poon. With only a couple of training sessions prior to their arrival, one can expect the visiting team to struggle both in terms of style and system combination. The absence of Mahesh Gawli in the left and the lack of a natural left winger in the Indian team might be a major flaw where Hong Kong will look to dominate. This weakness was clearly exposed in matches against Thailand and Namibia. The key player to be watched in this match is the Hong Kong striker Chan Sui Kui who has scored 26 goals in 33 Internationals; he will be a constant threat to Indian defense.
The team if register a win tonight will be a huge boost to the morale before preparing to challenge the best teams of Asia in the group stages. I would like to request all Indian fans to go and support the home team with all passion and love.
India: Abhishek Yadav, N. Manju, Anwar, Gouramangi Singh, Subrata Paul, Subashish Chowdhury, Arindam Bhattacharya, Mehrajuddin Wadoo, Climax Lawrence, Clifford Miranda, Surkumar Singh, Mohanraj, Baldeep Singh, Baljit Sahni. Rakesh Masih, Jagpreet Singh, Anthony Pereira, Sunil Chhetri, Deepak Mandal, Sushil Singh and Syed Rahim Nabi.
Hong Kong: Li Hon Ho, Lee Chi Ho, Wai Lun Lee, Chan Siu Ki, Li Haiqiang, Kwan Yee Lo, Kin Fung Cheung, Li Hang Wui, Chan Wai Ho, Leung Chun Pong, Poon Yiu Cheuk, Wai Lim Lee, Tak Him Tse, Lam Ka Wai, Wong Chin Hung, Lee Hong Lim, Sham Kwok Fai, Bai He, Siu Ki and Ye Jia.