Calcutta: Having edged past Pakistan 1-0 in their opening match in SAFF Championship, India will look to put up an improved performance against Bangladesh in a Group A tie in Kathmandu on Tuesday.
The defending champions dished out a listless performance in their opener as they allowed Pakistan to dominate for major part of the match. In fact, it was an own goal by Pakistan captain Samar Ishaq which helped India win the tie.
Coach Wim Koevermans minced no words in the post-match press conference, saying he was not happy with the performance and his side were lucky to have won the game. Despite the disappointing show, India, ranked 145th, will start as favourites against Bangladesh, who are 13 notches below at 158th.
Koevermans, however, is not taking Bangladesh lightly.
“It’s our second final as we are here to play five finals and defend our title. Bangladesh have lost the first match. So they will be eager to win… No doubt then that they will come hard at us,” Koevermans told a press conference.
Speaking about his side’s strategy, Koevermans said: “Bangladesh are a good side… They are technically sound… But we need to focus on ourselves… We hope to put up an improved show.”
Captain Sunil Chetri, who is just three goals shy of becoming India’s highest scorer, was out of form against Pakistan, muffing three easy chances.
“It’s destiny. That’s how a striker’s life goes. On another day, all the three shots might have been on target. Next match he will score,” Chhetri’s striking partner Jeje Lalpekhlua came to his skipper's defence.
For Bangladesh, it’s a do-or-die match as a defeat would put them out of reckoning for a place in the last four.
Incidentally, Bangladesh are being managed by Koevermans’ fellow countryman Lodewijk de Kruif.“It’s a do-or-die match for us. We will play to our full strength,” said De Kruif. “India were a bit lucky against Pakistan. We know their style of play as much they know ours,” he added.
It will also have to be seen whether the match is affected by bad weather conditions as it rained in Kathmandu on Sunday, just after India ended their match against Pakistan.
In the 22 meetings between the two teams, India have won 11 times while Bangaldesh have won thrice and eight games were drawn.
The last time the two sides met was in the 2007 Nehru Cup at Ambedkar Stadium in New Delhi. India rode captain Bhaichung Bhutia’s strike to win the match.