After outclassing a listless Sri Lanka in the opening match of the SAFF Suzuki Cup football championship, host India takes on a tricky opponent in Nepal on Sunday.
Nepal is a vastly improved side, and it was unlucky to lose to Sri Lanka after having dominated the latter for the most part. Nepal has also given India a tough time in recent matches, the last international fixture between the two sides ending in a goalless draw.
Coach Stephen Constantine is only too aware of Nepal’s resurgence and ability. He exuded a bit of caution on the eve of India’s match against its neighbours.
“Like I said earlier, there are no easy matches in international tournaments. Nepal will be a tough game. They are hard working and a difficult side to break down. We treat them with utmost respect,” he said.
“We played them thrice recently and have won only once.”
However, Constantine said he was pleased with the win over Sri Lanka in the opening fixture after having fielded a mostly young team.
“In the first half, we had a lot of possession but could not penetrate. We took our chances in the second half,” said Constantine.
However, he added that there was still scope for lot of improvement.
“We were in a good position to score. In modern football, everything is about positioning. We started creating more chances when I sent in Rowlin Borges in the second half,” he said.
True to his word of blooding youngsters, Constantine handed Lallianzuala his first India cap.
The 18-year-old AIFF academy product came on as substitute late in the second-half for Robin Singh, who had injured himself after scoring the second goal.
Reflecting on that decision, Constantine said he had always believed that Lallianzula had it in him to play international football.
“I have always believed in the philosophy that if they are good enough they are old enough, and Lallianzuala is good enough for us,” he said.
“But there is still a long way to go for him. He has a bright future ahead of him.”
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