Preview: Desperate for a win, India gear up for do-or-die clash against Nepal
The 2021 South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) Championship has not gone according to plan for India so far. Two disappointing draws against Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have placed the Blue Tigers fourth on the table and in a precarious position to qualify for the SAFF Championship final. To stand a chance of doing so, India must win both their remaining games, starting with the game against Nepal on Sunday, which will serve as a do-or-die test for the Blue Tigers.
While India have registered just two points in their opening two matches, Nepal find themselves top of the SAFF Championship points table, having accumulated six points after wins over hosts - Maldives, and Sri Lanka. Even a point or more against India would boost Nepal's chance of qualifying for the final and to do so, the table-toppers might alter their approach on the field. But ahead of a must-win encounter, Stimac called for his side to focus on themselves despite Nepal being placed in a favourable situation.
"They might have a different approach because they have six points so they might calculate in this game, going for a point or playing counter-attacking football which might be dangerous for us," Stimac said at the pre-match press conference.
"We don't know what they are going to decide but we are not worried about that. We need to do our job from the very beginning."
Both sides will be better prepared to face each other having played two friendlies in September. India were held to a 1-1 draw before winning the final game 2-1.
Although the form has favoured Nepal so far at the tournament, Stimac was optimistic about his side's chances of making the final.
"Everything is still open (in terms of qualifying)," he said.
"We came here to win the tournament and I don't know how many points we are going to get. Even with six points, there is a possibility that we reach the final. But let’s not think about mathematics. We need to do everything on the pitch to deserve good results, which will put us in a comfortable position."
Goalkeepers: Gurpreet Singh, Dheeraj Singh and Vishal Kaith.
Defenders: Pritam Kotal, Seriton Fernandes, Chinglensana Singh, Rahul Bheke, Subhasish Bose, Mandar Rao Dessai.
Midfielders: Udanta Singh, Brandon Fernandes, Lalengmawia, Anirudh Thapa, Sahal Abdul Samad, Jeakson Singh, Glan Martins, Suresh Singh, Liston Colaco, Yasir Mohammad.
Forwards: Manvir Singh, Rahim Ali, Sunil Chhetri, Farukh Choudhary.
Kick-off time: 9:30 PM (IST)