World Cup qualifiers: Confident India take on Nepal in second leg

KATHMANDU, March 16: A confident Indian football team will look to get the better of Nepal one more time as it faces the Himalayan nation in the 2018 FIFA World Cup and 2019 Asian Cup second leg preliminary qualifying game (round 1) on Tuesday.

India won the home leg 2-0 with goals from Sunil Chhetri, who struck twice in the second half in a dominating display at Guwahati last week.

Coach Stephen Constantine, whose second stint with the team started on a winning note, seemed a confident man as the players went about their tasks during the pre-match training session.

“If you ask me, 2-0 is a very deceiving scoreline. If Nepal score, the game changes. I have said this from the very beginning that this will be a very difficult task for us. The game is still available for both teams,” Constantine said at the pre-match press conference.

The Indian players will be feeling the heat as Nepal will have home crowd backing them.

“With a vociferous crowd backing them, Nepal will want to score an early goal which would give them the momentum to push ahead. We need to prevent that. We need to maintain the shape and discipline,” the coach added.

Two years ago, playing at the same venue, India suffered a defeat and they will look to come back with pleasant memories this time around.

“The match is far from over. The first half has just been over. It is still to be played,” Constantine stated.

The same sentiment was echoed by Nepal head coach Jack Stefanowski. “The result in the first-leg was disappointing for us. It added to our confidence playing against a good team. This is our home match and we are confident.

“In Guwahati, we started to go away from our game plan and in the last two days we have worked on it again. It’s our home match and we aim to level scores and then go for the kill,” Stefanowski said.

Complementing his coach, Indian captain Subrata Paul wasn’t willing to read much into the 2-0 victory.

“That is past. This is a new game, a new challenge. We will approach this game afresh and it’s tough for us. Most importantly, it’s an away game for us,” Paul said.

The Indian football team has expressed “unhappiness” over the lack of basic facilities at the Dashrath stadium, venue for tomorrow’s 2018 World Cup round 1 pre-qualifying game against Nepal, and said the condition of the ground is “very bad and devoid of grass”.

The team management also blamed the organsiers for not providing its players with the official training ball, which is a must in any international match.

“The condition of the ground is very bad. We haven’t been able to train with the official ball since landing in Kathmandu. The ground yesterday was uneven, devoid of grass.

The stadium is almost the same today and they didn’t give us official balls,” a source close to the team told PTI.

A confident Indian football team is looking to get the better of Nepal one more time as it faces the Himalayan nation in the 2018 FIFA World Cup and 2019 Asian Cup second leg preliminary qualifying game (round 1) here tomorrow.

In the first leg in Guwahati, star striker Sunil Chhetri struck twice in the second half as India notched up a 2-0 win in a dominating display.

The result at the Indira Gandhi Athletics Stadium gave newly-appointed India head coach Stephen Constantine a winning start in his second stint at the helm of affairs.

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