SAFF Championship – India take on bottom ranked Sri Lanka with eye on first win

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India

The Indian Football Team led by coach Igor Stimac was unable to defeat a 10-man Bangladesh last day as the Blue Tigers extended their poor run of form under the Croatian manager. Sunil Chhetri had opened the scoring off a pass from Udanta Singh before Bangladesh equalised through Yeasin Arafat. Bangladesh, with 10-men on the field, managed to hold off an ineffective Indian offensive line to earn a draw. It is still possible for India to turn things around as it has three more games to play in the group stage. There is a lot at stake, including the coach’s job as India faces Sri Lanka in their next match.

Igor Stimac provided us with his assessment of the Sri Lankan team in the pre-match press conference saying, “Sri Lanka do whatever they can to prevent their opponents from approaching the final third. They work hard till the final whistle. Some ways to trouble teams like them would be to pass quickly, make lots of movements, and attempt to get to the final third with plenty of through-balls. Yes, Sri Lanka are making things difficult for everyone but we’ll get chances. We need to be clever and patient.

India

The Sri Lankans are currently at the bottom of the table after losing both of their games so far. However the Golden Lions have not been a pushover, as both of their losses have been close ones. Despite losing 3-2 against Nepal, they played some attractive football and will look to do the same against India.

Sri Lanka’s manager Amir Alagic said in the pre-match press conference that he does not want to judge India based on their recent form, “We cannot judge India based on one or two games. They have the best infrastructure and league. So it will be really tough and a huge test for us. For Sri Lanka, it’s a learning process but learning processes should stop somewhere. So we are expecting a really good game tomorrow – a test, not just result wise but to test how we are growing.” 

Team News

India will go into the Lanka game with a full strength squad since there are no injuries currently in the Blue Tigers’ camp. Stimac, however, indicated in his press conference that he may change the starting eleven depending on the freshness of the players. “We still have 24 hours to go. We will have a clear picture of the players in the evening after we finish the training session. At that time, we will get to know how the players are feeling, how much the legs are loaded.

Sri Lanka meanwhile will be missing the services of centre-back Chamod Dilshan who will remain suspended for the India game after receiving two yellow cards. However, Duckson Puslas, their star defender, will return after missing the previous game due to a red card he received in the first match against Bangladesh. Besides suspensions, no significant injuries have been reported.

Predicted Line-ups

India

India: Gurpreet, Bose, Seriton, Pritam, Chinglensana, Thapa, Glan, Liston, Manvir, Brandon, Chhetri

Sri Lanka: Perera, Akib, Fernando, Duckson, Chameera, Mudiyanselage, Hamilton, Razeek, Ishan, De Silva, Shifan

Head to Head

India

India and Sri Lanka has faced each other 16 times with India emerging victorious in nine occasions. Sri Lanka have won thrice and four matches have ended in a draw. The sides last faced each other in 2018 when India defeated Lanka 2-0 courtesy to goals from Ashique and Chhangte.

Predictions

As compared to what they faced against Bangladesh, India is expected to have an easier game against Sri Lanka. The Golden Lions will be on the back foot with two defeats from their last two games, and India will be desperate to get three points from the match. Nevertheless, given the inconsistent nature of the Indian team under Igor Stimac, nothing can be ruled out, as Nepal will be desperate to salvage some points in order to avoid an early exit from the SAFF Championship.

Match Facts

Venue – Maldives National Football Stadium

Time – 16:30 IST

Telecast – Eurosport

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