India face tough task against Qatar in qualifier
Doha: India would seek inspiration from their impressive show against Qatar in the Asian Games last year when they face the same opponents in the Olympic football
qualifiers second round match on Sunday.
India were leading 0-1 till the 80th minute in a group match of the Asian Games in Guangzhou but conceded two goals in the last 10 minutes to lose the tie 1-2.
The Under-23 boys under Englishman Desmond Bulpin have not had the best of preparations as their short camp in Pune was hit hard by rain and they had not played any international friendly.
But with most of the players who were in the Asian Games squad are expected to start afresh in the match on sunday, the visitors would look to continue their good work in the Olympics qualification campaign after defeating Myanmar 3-2 on aggregates in the first round.
Bulpin had admitted that Qatar are the favourites, more so because they would be playing at home at Al Saad Stadium on Sunday, but are not unbeatable.
He said a draw or even a narrow loss would be a good result as they can do better in the second leg in Pune on June 23.
"Qatar are a more technically equipped side than us. But we are here to play pressing football. With some luck we may have a positive result too. I won`t say, we will win but we will play for a win," Bulpin said at the pre-match press conference.
"I won`t mind a draw. It`s our away-match and we would like to score," he said. India`s job would, however, be made a bit difficult as captain and key defender Raju Gaikwad is a doubtful starter for tomorrow`s game as he had twisted his ankle during the Pune camp.
Bulpin is also banking on the support from the stands as there are a large number of Indian fans living in Qatar. "We would hope for support as there are a lot of Indians in Doha. I would want them to come in large numbers," Bulpin said.
If Bulpin was cautious, Qatar`s French coach Simondi Bernard was over-aggressive.
"Bulpin has the right to say anything. He is free to say whatever he wants to. There was arrogance, there was attitude." He exclaimed.
Much of the visitors` performance would depend on striker Jeje Lalpekhlua, the top Indian scorer in the I-League with 13 goals, and midfielders Sheikh Jewel Raja and Shilton D`Silva.
Qatar had more than a month-long preparatory camp in Spain. They drew with Real Madrid `B` team 1-1 and beat Getafe 1-0 there. On June 13, the Olympic team of Qatar routed Malaysia 4-0 in a friendly match.