India look for a winning start in SAFF Cup tomorrow

Updated: Dec 04, 2009, 21:58 PM IST

Dhaka: Three-time champions India would look
to start their SAFF Cup campaign on a winning note when they
take on minnows Afghanistan at the Bangabandhu National
Stadium here tomorrow.

India, who are fielding an Under-23 side in the regional
tournament, cannot afford to take Afghanistan lightly as any
slippage in tomorrow`s Group A match would make it difficult
for them to qualify for the semifinals.

The side, led by India senior forward Sushil Kumar Singh,
has last edition champions Maldives and unpredictable Nepal in
their group and a false start in the tournament could prove to
be a disaster.

Afghanistan has players in their ranks who ply trade in
lower division sides in Germany. The side coached by Mohammed
Farid also came with some players that had played in the AFC
Challenge Cup hosted and won by India last year.

In a group match in that tournament in Hyderabad, Indian
senior side needed an injury time goal to emerge victorious.

Coach Sukhwinder Singh said his boys know the importance
of their opening game and they are not taking Afghanistan

"We respect our tomorrow`s opponent. There are no
underdogs in modern football. We want to start the tournament
on a winning note," he said after the team`s two-hour training

"We have prepared well for the tournament in Goa. All my
boys are in good shape. SAFF Championships have always been a
tough tournament to win. We want to play our best," said the
coach who was at the helm of affairs when India won the 1999
edition in Goa.

India lost to Maldives 0-1 in the final last year in

Before India play Afghanistan, Maldives take on Nepal in
the first match tomorrow.

India Team (From): Sushil Kumar Singh (capt), Arindam
Bhatacharya, Laximikant Kattimani, D Ravanan, Denzil Franco,
Nirmal Chetri, Naoba Singh, Ravinder Singh, Robert
Lalthlamuana, Rowilson Rodrigues, Baldip Singh, Balwant Singh,
Jagpreet Singh, Jewel Raja, Jibbon Singh, Joaquim Abranches,
Subodh Kumar, Jagtar Singh, Manish Maitahni, Jeje Lalpeklua.