Ashgabat (Turkmenistan): After three consecutive defeats, India will have a tough task ahead of them against Turkmenistan when the two teams clash in the 2018 World Cup qualification match at the Ashgabat Stadium here on Thursday.
India lost to Oman, Guam and more recently to Iran to be placed at the bottom of Group D. Turkmenistan have lost against Oman and Guam and drawn against Iran to be placed just above India.
Placed 155th in the FIFA rankings, Turkmenistan have faced 167th-ranked India in five matches earlier with both sides winning two each -- one fixture was drawn.
Despite positive words cropping up from the Indian camp ahead of Thursday's game, it remains to be seen whether Stephen Constantine's boys -- led by forward Sunil Chhetri -- will walk the talk against a team that is close to their rankings.
Ahead of the match, national coach Stephen Constantine termed the clash as a "difficult task".
"We are aware of the difficult task. Turkmenistan had a fantastic result against Iran. It speaks about the ability and determination of the team," Constantine said.
"Iran is a super power in Asia and we always respect a team which managed to get a point from them. So we expect a very difficult game. The past may be hinting at something different but Turkmenistan are a much improved side in the last few years," the coach said.
India captain Chhetri said the team is ready to face a talented opposition.
"We have watched some videos of Turkmenistan. They are very strong at Home. We played against Iran at home in our last match and stay aware of Iran’s might even when they play away. And Turkmenistan held Iran at home,” Chhetri said.
“We respect Turkmenistan. We have even watched the video of their match against Oman. They have some talented players. But we are ready for that,” the captain said.