India favorites against Nepal in football friendly

The team will miss the services of winger Udanta Singh, who was hit by hamstring injury and will be out of action during the friendly tie against Nepal and the AFC Asian Cup Group A qualifier later.

India last lost to Nepal in the 1999 SAF Games, where the latter romped home by 4-0.   -  PTI

Boosted by the availability of star striker Sunil Chhetri after his timely recovery from a hamstring injury, host India goes into the football friendly against lower-ranked Nepal here tomorrow with its confidence high.

The international friendly will be played at the Football Arena in Andheri Sports Complex where India’s dramatic ascent to no. 100 in the FIFA rankings commenced last September with a 4-0 rout of Puerto Rico.

Some players had dispersed to fulfil their respective club commitments after notching up a memorable 1-0 win over Myanmar in the AFC Asian Cup group opener in March end. Meanwhile, the Indian squad has been sweating it out for three weeks now at the venue and with the Bengaluru FC and Mohun Bagan players joining the camp, national head coach Stephen Constantine would be keen to put his best team on the park against Nepal. The aim will be to get a tune up ahead of India’s vital AFC Asian Cup Group A qualifier against Kyrgyzstan next week.

“The mood in the team is great. We are all excited to be representing the country again after the long season. The Nepal game is important in that it sets us up before the game against Kyrgyzstan,” key midfielder Eugeneson Lyngdoh told reporters on Saturday.

“It’s the right preparation (for the game against Kyrgyzstan at Bengaluru) as playing against any team will help us gel as a unit. We are coming back after so many months, and it’s important to get our system right before playing against Kyrgyzstan,” Lyngdoh added.

The team will miss the services of winger Udanta Singh, who has picked up a serious hamstring injury and will be out for the friendly tie against Nepal and the AFC Asian Cup Group A qualifier later.

It was Udanta who had laid the perfect pass for Chhetri to bulge the net in the dying moments of the game against Myanmar in Yangoon on March 28.

Coming to the India-Nepal football rivalry, the host has not lost to its north-eastern neighbour for 18 years, its last defeat-a 0-4 rout-happening in the 1999 SAF Games.

After that reversal, the two South Asian neighbours have met on nine occasions, and India has come out trumps on all but two of these encounters, both being goalless draws.

Their last contest was in the South Asian Football Federation championship in December 2015 where India beat Nepal 4-1.

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