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India 1 – 0 Nepal, SAFF Cup.

Posted in Uncategorized by clash on December 8, 2009

The ESPN pundits Shabby Singh (heh!) and Massa wielded mic for this match which was shown live on ESPN yesterday. While Shabby is outright abominable when it comes to his opinions and of course his allegiance – Sp*rs supporter, i have never bothered to listen to Paul Masefield (massa!!), he is just another football pundit.

Yet again, i missed the first half of the match and India had already scored 1 goal. Or, it was an own goal sorts, which had been attributed to an Indian player. Jeevan Singh, i feel.

The second half was all about the half hearted attempts of the Nepali team to level the score, which  never happened.  They tried to string a lot of passes on the ground, which hardly caused any trouble for the Indian team. They hardly could muster their way up the  field. Occasionally they managed to create some chances but the Indian goal was well guarded by the young Indian goal keeper, Arindam.

Nepal was below average, with some players putting in decent performances. Anil Gurung, the Lajon FC striker could create some problems but was not clinical enough to score.  I concede that Anil is the only player i am aware of ,by name in the Nepal squad. There were few others also who had a decent second half.

While the Indian team’s approach to the game was quite good. They were comfortable in playing a high line, pushing the Nepali team in to their own half.  We were happy to hang on to the single goal lead, as the Nepali team never could create pressure situations in the Indian goal front.

While i am not still convinced by the Indian forward line consisting of Balwant and Sushil, i am quite impressed by the defensive performance yesterday.  The defense lived up to their size, they were dominating and the Nepali players found it difficult to deal with the situation.  There were occasional glitches, but all attempts were thwarted by some superb goal keeping by Arindam.  On the whole, i feel this Indian team is a good defensive unit.

Notable players who put in decent performances are Robert Lalthalma, who is a composed presence in the defensive line.  Rowilson Rodrigues, as his partners in the defense had a good match.  While in the second half the midfield did not put up a spirited offensive performance, they were influential in guarding the lead against Nepal.

While Balwant harried quite a lot before getting substituted, Sushil  put in a yet another scrappy, unconvincing display. I just dont like Sushil’s game and he has not proven me wrong in both these matches. Je je after coming in for Balwant had couple of chances which could have been buried, but his lack of experience showed. In coming days, he will be a terrific asset for our national team.  The other two substitutes Subodh Kumar and Sheikh Jewel Raja were average, i felt.

This was definitely a better performance than the earlier outing in SAFF cup against Afghanistan. We played better as a team and were committed to the cause.  It can only get better. Scoring is still a concern, with the established forwards not firing, we will have to wait and see what Sukhwinder is planning to end the drought of goals. So, to the semis of SAFF cup with an u-23 team. Not bad.

India – Afghanistan : SAFF CUP

Posted in Uncategorized by clash on December 5, 2009

India 1 – 0 Afghsnistan (Goal – Je Je)

I have a feeling that the number of premier league matches aired in India has been cut down by ESPN-STAR. Anyway i am not going to complain too much as i was treated with SAFF CUP on Star Sports today evening. A power outage means, i missed the first half of the India – Afghanistan match.

The indian senior coach Bob-Houghton had convinced the authorities that India should sent in a young team for SAFF cup this time around. So, a Sukhwinder managed, essentially u-23 players are representing India at Dhaka.

From what i listened to the commentators, i felt the first half was way poor from India. Good, i missed it. The second half was also not that promising in terms of standard and play making. The second half started with some good offensive play by the Indians but were occasionally treated to Afghani counter attacks.

Afghanistan managed to create a few chances, some were not taken well, while one was saved by the Indian goal keeper Arindam quite gracefully.

Coming to India’s display, it was quite patchy. The players are young, probably they are at such an awe that,  a responsibility of bringing back the SAFF cup is entitled on them.  Maldives are the defending champions.

I liked Robert Lalthalma’s over all game, i felt the  Churchill youngster had a good half.  The centre halves also had a decent game. While among the midfielders Manish stood out with some good tackles especially in the dying minutes of the match. Abranches on the right hand side had a good game.

I have never liked Sushil Kumar, the captian-striker, and he did nothing special in that 45 minutes, for me to change my perception about him. Where as the Pune FC striker Je Je who came on as substitute was a revelation for me. The stocky 18 year old did make the maximum out of the chance that was given to him by scoring the solitary goal of the match which earned us valuable 3 points. Some to keep an eye on, in the future for sure! Je Je! Yay!

There are few positives to take away from this match. Some players are looking good, a little bit of tweaking would provide results, i feel. The team will have to play more as a cohesive unit against teams like Nepal and Maldives. This is the first outing for our youngsters in the SAFF cup, they can  only improve upon their performances. So let us hope for the best.