India-Pakistan battle in SAFF semis
Published : Wednesday, 12 September, 2018 at 10:30 AM Count : 235
Indian football team will face traditional arch-rivals Pakistan in the second semi-final of the ongoing seven-nation 12th SAFF Suzuki Cup’2018 in Dhaka on Wednesday.
Nepal will take on the Maldives in the first semifinal at 4:00 pm at the same venue and same day.
Indian coach Stephen Contantine watched almost all of his players in the two group matches and is set to pitch the perfect combination for the crunch match.
The cool and composed approach of Indian team may have more to present.Ashique Kuruniyan, Farukh Haji Kasam Choudhary, Manvir Singh, Nikhil Chandrashekhar, Sumeet Pasi all have returned the faith of the coach with good shows in the field.
The Brazilian coach of Pakistan Jose Antonio Nogueira has combined his players into a total unit with skipper Saddam Hossain leading the team with distinction.
His men -- upfront Muhammad Ali and Saadullah -- have roamed the opposition defence with efficiency.
As per the head-to-head record between India and Pakistan, the 7th times champion India have the upper hand. Out of the 23 battles between the two sides, India won 14, Pakistan won three and the rest six games ended in draw, UNB reports.
The two teams locked last time five years back in the 2013 SAFF Championship where India emerged as the victor with the solitary goal win in the match.
However, it will be hard to make any prediction for the upcoming match as it promises to be an evenly-contested one.
The other semifinal between Nepal and Maldives may prove the anticipation wrong as luck favoured the Maldives can turn the wheel around. Nepal returned to form with a 4-0 thrashing of Bhutan and a formidable 2-0 win over hosts Bangladesh.
The formidable attackers Sunil Bal, Bharat Khawas, Bimal Gharti Magar and Nawjug Shreshta carry the Nepalese flag.
The Maldiveswho stormed into the semifinal winning the toss eliminating Sri Lanka are yet to score a goal in two matches losing 2-0 to India and playing a goalless draw against Sri Lanka.
Himalayan country Nepal will lock horns with Islanders Maldives in the first semifinal on Wednesday at 4 pm with an inspiration of winning last two semifinals against the Maldives in four goal thrillers.
Nepal beat the Maldives by 4-3 goals in the semifinal of the last SA Games in India in 2016 and again beat them by 4-1 goals in the semifinal of the Bangabandhu Cup in Dhaka.
Interestingly, Nepal forward Nawjug Shreshta slammed hat-ticks on both the occasions. In-form Nawjug also scored in the crunch 2-0 victory over hosts Bangladesh in the last group match here on Saturday.
But record favoured the Maldives as they won seven matches, conceded defeat in four and the remaining four matches ended in draw in the last 15 meetings between the two teams.
Nepalese Coach Bal Gopal Mahrajan has rotated his players in a neat way conserving the energy and also avoiding injury.
Nepalese team have an ability to create affective movements with short and long build ups. Ananta Tamang, Sunil Bal and Bimal Gharti Magar has led the defense, midfield and offence respectively.
The Maldives recruited four forwards --Ali Fasir, Hamza Mohammad, Hasan Naiz and Ibrahim Hasan Waheed--to demonstrate their attacking intentions against Sri Lanka but still remained in the bay.