India secure entry into title round

Football Nehru Cup: Defending champs take on Syria today in dress rehearsal to Mondays final

India secure entry into title round


India will get more than six points if they either draw or beat Syria on Saturday but even if they lose, they will make it to the final for the second consecutive time.

Had Sri Lanka beaten KyON COURSE AGAIN: India’s footballers have put themselves in line to defend their Nehru Cup title by making it to the final. PTIrgyzstan by a huge goal margin,  they would also have had six points -- the same as India -- but the island country still could make it to the final as they had lost to the home team 1-3 in their last round-robin match on Wednesday. Instead, the Lankans went down 1-4, which meant they remained stuck on three points while Kyrgyzstan finished on four points, the same as Lebanon.

Even if Sri Lanka had won the match and India lost on Saturday to Syria, the teams would have been level on six points. According to the AFC rules, head-to-head result comes first before goal difference while deciding which team goes to next stage after league engagements. So the final on August 31 will be repeat of 2007 summit clash between India and Syria.

All India Football Federation General Secretary Alberto Colaco cleared the confusion and said before Friday’s game that India were already through.

Renedy named skipper

Captain Bhaichung Bhutia and his regular strike partner Sunil Chhetri will be rested to preserve them for the all-important summit clash when India play Syria in their last round-robin fixture on Saturday.

Abhishek Yadav and Sushil Kumar Singh will replace Bhutia and Chhetri upfront as coach Bob Houghton wants to give the reserve players a chance since the home team has already made it to the final of the five-nation tournament.

Senior player Renedy, who will also start on the morrow at the left wing in place of Anthony Pereira will lead the side. The right wing will be manned by East Bengal captain Syed Rahim Nabi.

Climax Lawrence and Mehrajuddin Wadoo will start at the midfield and NP Pradeep will replace the former in the second session.

There will be no change in the two central defenders’ position as Gouramangi Singh and Anwar will start with Deepak Mondal and Mahesh Gawli at the right and left back positions respectively.

After the first half, Gawli will make way for Surkumar Singh who will play as right back while Deepak will be shifted to left, Houghton said after the team’s training session at a city college ground here.

Houghton, after the team’s training session at a city college ground here, said despite India having qualified for the final, his boys will play their best and “test” the Syrians.
“The players who will start tomorrow will want to prove that they are also in good nick and they have also contributed for the team. Mehrajuddin (wadoo), (Syed Rahim) Nadi, Renedy they all would want to prove themselves so we will be playing for a win,” the Englishman said.

“It will be an interesting match. I am looking forward how Syrians are going to be tested by my boys. You don’t get a team of their class to test your strength quite often.”

Houghton said the Syrians were a better side than the last time when India beat them 1-0 in the final.

“I think they are a lot better this time. I am impressed by their performance so far. Their defenders Ali Dyab and Belal Abdul Diam and midfielder Feras Ismail,” he said.

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