A warm-up act before the final

Football Nehru Cup: India take on Cameroon in last match of the league phase

It is the final before the final. Both India and Cameroon have made it to the title contest even before their play-off meeting and would look to get a measure of each other on Friday. 

Cameroon, even with their second string players, have emerged the best team in the tournament. They play a fiery brand of football and hold the swagger of being the cut above the rest in the Nehru Cup football tournament. In all their matches, they have exhibited power and speed.

After a rather slow start against Syria in a water-logged field, where they were held 2-2, Cameroon have bounced back with venom.

In three matches, they have scored 10 goals and conceded only three, with a 5-0 pummeling of Nepal underlining their class.

A final holds a special motivation for them with the probability of legendary Roger Milla flying here to see them in action against India. It is an incentive good enough to bring out their best and they are keen to showcase their great football legacy.  

“We have come to India to show what football in Cameroon is all about. We have mesmerised the world with our brand of football. We want India to have a feel of it too,” Cameroon’s coach Emmanuel Bosso said.

“He (Milla) is our football ambassador. He had promised that he would come to cheer for us if we make it to the final. We are all waiting for him.”

While Cameroon have the belief in their potential, they are not the one to take India easy.

“India have some good players. The No 6 (Lenny Rodrigues) has impressed me a lot. He can play around in the midfield and remains a potent force. Also, the captain (Sunil Chhetri) and the goalkeeper (Subrata Pal) are key members. But we have our plans,” Bosso said.

India, who pulled off exciting victories against Syria and Maldives, were held to a tame goalless draw by Nepal on Tuesday.  

Weather had been a big influence with rain hampering most of the matches of the tournament, and India will have to come with a better recourse. They used the swampy conditions to their advantage against the Syria but floundered against Nepal. The match also a gave Indian coach Wim Koevermans a lot to ponder about, concerning his bench strength.

Against Nepal, Rodrigues was off colour and his late substitution Jewel Raja impressed during his short stay.

“Cameroon are surely a very strong side. They are capable of playing good football and that’s already on display. The match will be interesting. We play Cameroon twice and the final remains the more important one. The last league match gives us a chance to have a look at our bench,” said Koevermans.

Friday will surely give India a peek into his preparedness in the final and Koevermans’ an assessment of the work to be done.

Syria win

Syria beat Nepal 2-0 on Thursday to settle for the fourth place. Hani Altayar (9th) and Al Ghlioum (49th) were the scorers.

Nepal, who couldn’t notch up a single win in the tournament, took the last spot while Maldives finished third.

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