SAFF Championship – India look to extend their run against Annese’s Nepal


Warm reception by over 22,000 fans on a rainy Wednesday evening at the Sree Kanteerava resulted in a famous 4-0 victory against Pakistan. The win quickly gained national interest as the results and clips went trending over various search platforms. The Indian coach and captain made headlines due to their doings on the pitch. Sunil Chhetri for his hattrick whereas Igor Stimac for his mischievous sense of occasion.

Match Report – India vs Pakistan

It’s time for the Blue Tigers to continue the good run. If Kuwait wins against Pakistan, India will seal the semifinal spot with a win on Saturday. While the love for Stimac is at its peak, his men are on a historic run as no other senior men’s team of India has kept seven clean sheets in a row. The 2-0 victory against Lebanon in the Intercontinental Cup Final saw them equalise the record set in 1951-52. The win over Pakistan sailed them to a historical achivement. Now they are in the running for the longest clean sheet run by a men’s national team in football history. The record is 11 by Roberto Mancini’s Italy 2020-21.

Nepal’s Italiano coach Vincenzo Alberto Annese has glorious contributions to Indian Football. He won the I-League 2021-22 with Gokulam Kerala as well as defeated ATK Mohun Bagan in the following AFC Cup.

Recent Form

Since the defeat in September last year against Vietnam, India has played seven games with a 6-1-0 record, conceding none and scoring 12 on the run (WWDWWWW). Whereas after a solid 4-1-0 run until March, Nepal has lost both their games in June.

Since the appointment of the Italian in March, Nepal has been on a run of 2-1-2 (LLWDW). Their tournament opener against Kuwait ended in a 3-1 loss. Prior to that, they faced a narrow 1-0 defeat to Phillippines.

Team News

SAFF’s General Secretary Anwarul Haq stated that Stimac would only get the automatic one-match ban for his red card against Pakistan. Since he is out for the game, assistant coach Mahesh Gawli will be the in-charge of the dugout. Former India Centre-Back Gawli took the charge when Stimac was given marching orders on Wednesday.

There are no new reported injuries from the Indian camp.

India vs Nepal – Head-to-Head

The friendly neighbours first played each other in 1985. Since then, India has played Nepal 23 times, and has a dominant record of 17-5-1. The only time Nepal won against India was in 2013.

India is 4-1-0 clear of Nepal in their last five meetings, which includes the SAFF Championship 2021 Final as well.

Probable XI

SAFF Championship: India vs Nepal
Sunil Chhetri in action in a training session [AIFF]

India XI: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu (GK), Nikhil Poojary, Sandesh Jhinghan, Mehtab Singh, Akash Mishra, Apuia, Anirudh Thapa, Sahal Abdul Samad, Lallianzuala Chhangte, Naorem Mahesh Singh, Sunil Chhetri (C)

Nepal XI: Kiran Chemchong (GK), Pujan Uperkoti, Bimal Pandey, Ananta Tamang, Sanish Shreshtha, Laken Kimbu, Arik Basta, Rohit Chanda, Nawayug Shrestha (C), Ayush Galang, Anjan Bista

IFTWC’s Prediction

IFTWC expects the Blue Tigers to add another clean sheet to their run. A 2-0 victory could be a safe bet.

The hosts might make a few changes. As they want to prepare of bunch of players who can fit at any time. Mehtab Singh and Apuia may finally be getting a start. Same for Mahesh Singh at the left wing who has impressed in his India outings so far. His precise passing can create more and more chances against Nepal. The Right Back slot may be tricky for this game.

There was fair criticism of the Fancode commentary in the Pakistan game. The commentary was gone for large patches and when it was on, it brought a Salah and a few extra Chhetris with it.

The upcoming game will be broadcasted on the same platform. One can either buy the match pass worth 15 rupees or the tournament pass worth 49. It will be televised on DD Bharati. The game will kick-off at 19:30 IST.

Follow our website for more updates on Indian Football.

Chetan Anand
Chetan Anand
Radars Football, Cricket and Motorsports

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