Football World Cup qualifiers: India ready for UAE, says Chhetri
The equation for India is simple: a victory margin of four goals against the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in a World Cup football qualifying here on Thursday will keep them in the fray, otherwise, the dream for a place in the 2014 finals will stretch by another four years.The task, nonetheless, is as tough as it gets, especially after the 0-3 defeat to the UAE in the away tie last week. As the Indian team gears up for the door-die second leg of the qualifiers at the Ambedkar Stadium, forward Sunil Chhetri believes all is not yet lost, though the goal is tough.”What happened in the UAE was unfortunate. We lost two players (to the red card) within the first 25 minutes and we also conceded two penalties. We played well with nine men and the fact that we conceded only one goal from field-play gives us confidence,” Chhetri said on Tuesday. “We have shrugged off the shock of the defeat and the team is ready for the next match.” Chhetri acknowledged the superiority of their Gulf opponents. “We have to play our best game physically, tactically, technically, as the UAE are far better than us,” he said.India’s shock 2-1 win over Qatar in a friendly prior to the UAE match gives Chhetri inspiration. “Many people said it was a bad decision to play Qatar before the qualifiers as a big loss would deal a blow to our confidence. But we shocked everyone,” he said.Sunil Chhetri is confident that India can come back”It was an inspiring win, one which we cherish. So keeping that in mind, we need to start fresh in the second leg.” The team’s No. 1 goalkeeper Subrata Paul and defender Debabrata Roy were shown red cards in the first leg and will miss Thursday’s match.”Both players were an important part of our team, but their absence also opens the opportunity for two other players to prove their mettle,” Chhetri said.advertisement”Karanjit Singh who came in place for Subrata played a good game. And this is a chance for him. For the last five years, Subrata has been the first choice goalkeeper for India, thanks to his form and fitness. Now, Karanjit has a chance to show his talent.” Though Karanjit is most likely to fill in the shoes of Subrata, Roy’s substitute has yet not been decided.Chhetri is also happy that the match is being played at the Ambedkar Stadium, which has been a lucky venue for India in the last few years. “We won two Nehru Cup tournaments at the Ambedkar Stadium. This has been a lucky ground for us. Hope it remains so this time too,” he said.Chhetri Has a NiggleThe Indian team practiced at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on Tuesday, but Chhetri did not practice with the main team.Though the rest of the players practiced set- piece movements and also a small game among themselves, Chhetri did only physical training and running under physical trainer Suresh Babu.”I have a minor injury in the ankle which I got during the UAE match. It’s nothing major though I did not practice with the team as I didn’t want to take chances,” he said.