India cautious ahead of Pak tie

Venkatesh Shanmugam is a cautious man on the eve of India's SAFF Cup semi-final match against Pakistan in Dhaka on Wednesday.

By Our Special Correspondent
  • Published 12.09.18
  •  
Nikhil Poojary

New Delhi: Venkatesh Shanmugam is a cautious man on the eve of India's SAFF Cup semi-final match against Pakistan in Dhaka on Wednesday.

Himself a former India captain, Venkatesh, currently the assistant coach of the national team, is aware of the tension of an Indo-Pak encounter. The two teams always give their best in such a clash. Indian fans would recall how determined Pakistan were when they beat India in their last meeting in a friendly in Bangalore four years ago.

"We understand that there is a lot of madness around this fixture but we are considering this just as another match. We have to get the job done. Only then we stand in with a chance to retain the Cup," Venkatesh said.

While India, who are in Dhaka with an under-23 team play Pakistan in the semi-finals, Nepal, who upset hosts Bangladesh in the group league, will take on Maldives for a place in the final.

Pakistan have returned to international football after a three-year suspension but Venkatesh felt they had shown "enough character" to make it a tough outing.

"By reaching the last four of SAFF Cup after a gap of 13 years, they have shown their character and motivation. We respect them as our opponents and it's going to be a tough game for us," said the assistant coach. While India are ranked 96th in the Fifa ranking, Pakistan are placed 201.

Pakistan's Brazilian coach Jose Antonio Nogueira said his team remained unperturbed by the tension. "It's going to be my first experience of an India-Pakistan match but I have been well acquainted with this sort of rivalry," Nogueira commented.