Skipper Sunil Chettri, who plays for Sporting Lisbon’s B side, hoped his Portugal stint will come in handy when the team steps on to the monsoon-freshened lush green turf at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, where they won the SAFF Cup in December.
The Delhi star striker is not bothered much about his team being the lowest ranked in the tournament, he feels India have the ability to defend the title. Cameroon (59), Nepal (162) and Maldives (161) are the other teams besides the highly popular Syria (147) and the hosts.
Syria are no strangers here, they played in the last editions of the tournament and lost to India in both the finals. The civil war in Syria has taken a heavy toll on their football and to add to their woes FIFA scratched them from the 2014 World Cup qualifiers for fielding an ineligible player Georg Mourad, a former Swedish international.
Koevermans wants to take one match at a time. “Syria is a very good team. Our boys have the ability to win the match. We have to take one match at a time,” the Dutchman said.
Star goalkeeper Subrata Paul is back after a injury lay-off and he will have Nirmal Chettri, Raju Gaekwad, Gourmangi Singh and Syed Rahim Nabi to shield him.
Match called off
Mumbai Schools Sports Association (MSSA) Division IV U-16 inter-school football match between Our Lady of Salvation (Dadar) and SIES (Matunga) was called off at the Azad Maidan ground due to a protest rally held by the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray. Earlier, Don Bosco (Matunga) coach, Leslie Machado’s request to hold their match against Jamnabai Narsee (Juhu), which was delayed, at a later date was not entertained
by the organsiers.