Afghanistan eye revenge as they face India in SAFF Cup final

Defending champions Indian team will try to maintain their supremacy in the SAFF Football Championship when they take on a tough Afghanistan

Written by Press Trust Of India | Kathmandu | Published:September 11, 2013 3:14 am

Having notched up a morale-boosting semifinal victory against Maldives,defending champions Indian team will try to maintain their supremacy in the SAFF Football Championship when they take on a tough Afghanistan in the summit clash on Wednesday.

On paper,Afghans are a superior side with a FIFA ranking of 139 to India’s 145 as well as seven of their first XI footballers plying their trade in the lower tier leagues of the United States and Germany.

Medio Mustafa Azadzoy and defender Mustafa Hadid play in German league while forward Mohammed Yusuf has played in the US.

For Sunil Chhetri and his team,winning the SAFF Championship would be a thankless affair. India have won the trophy six times in the first nine editions having failed to reach the semis only once.

2012 RE-RUN

However,they have a solid Afghanistan team as an opposition,who were thrashed 0-4 in the final of the last edition held in New Delhi.

“We definitely want to take revenge on this India team as we felt that were hard done by the referee (Singaporean Sukhbir Singh) during the last edition. We are a far superior side than India,technically and physically,” Afghanistan’s assistant coach Ali Jawad Attaii declared through his interpreter – team captain Fakhruddin Amiri,who incidentally plays for I-League side Mumbai FC.

India will take a lot out of their win against Maldives in the semifinal,where there strategy worked out wonderfully.

With Gourmangi Singh in splendid form at the heart of defence and young Arnab Mondal deriving a lot of confidence from that winning goal,India would go into the match in a fine frame of mind.

The return of captain Sunil Chhetri,who is now just a couple of goals shy of being India’s highest scorer in the international circuit,will be a shot in the arm for the team’s Dutch coach,Wim Koevarmans,who has preferred playing with a single striker employing a 4-5-1 formation rather than the usual 4-4-2.

Comments will spur us: Koevermans

Indian football coach Wim Koevermans today made his displeasure obvious as he shot back at his team’s critics in the ongoing SAFF Championship here,saying it’s not lip-service but “performance on the ground” that matters.

From Maldives to Afghanistan,the defending champions’ opponents in tomorrow’s final,Koevermans’ boys have been criticised and dubbed “inferior” by the opposing teams.

“It’s up to them to think about us like this. But the only place where the judgement is made is on the ground. That’s where the real fight is,” he said.

The Dutchman’s comment was in reply to Afghanistan’s assistant coach Ali Jawad Attaii’s assessment that they are “technically and physically” far more superior than the Indians.

“Obviously,these comments (from opposition) will help me motivate the boys and they can produce some extra energy on the field. Hopefully,we will be able to show them that India is a strong side,” he said.

On the tactics he wished to employ,the coach said,“It’s a different team and a different game. It will be a physical game as they are a tough side but our boys are not weak either. Expect a final of high-intensity.”

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