New Delhi: Seeking to extend its stranglehold over the tournament, Indian football coach Wim Koevermans` blend of youth and experience is in for a real baptism of fire as it prepares to take on strong Cameroon in the final of the Nehru Cup here tomorrow.
While two-time defending champions India are seeking to make it three in a row after triumphs in 2007 and 2009 under then coach Bob Houghton, 59th ranked Cameroon will be chasing a maiden title in their first appearance at the invitational tournament, which started way back in 1982.
In the precursor to the summit showdown Cameroon, despite making as many as eight changes to their regular starting XIs, showed glimpses of what they are capable of.
With their solitary-goal win in the last round-robin league encounter yesterday evening, the Africans sent out a message to the hosts that more is in store. And they will look to unleash those at the floodlit Jawaharlal Nehru one last time, against the 168th ranked side in the world.
India can take heart from the fact that they, too, rested as many as five regular players at the expense of a few talented rookies who, to their credit, did put up a fight after conceding an early goal.
That they did not allow Cameroon to make merry after the second-minute goof-up, while coming close to scoring on a few occasions themselves after the change of ends, should make the Indians feel at ease.
Up against strong Syrian sides in the last two editions, India came out triumphant in front of packed stands at the Ambedkar stadium. Having done that in the past, India would surely back themselves to do an encore one more time.
We're building him (RvP) up now because of the World Cup. It’s a pity but we have to or he’ll never be fit.
Louis van Gaal