New Delhi: Indian national football team coach Armando Colaco admitted that his side face an uphill task to turn the tables on United Arab Emirates in the World Cup qualifiers second round on Thursday.
India lost 0-3 to UAE in their away match of World Cup qualifiers second round at Al Ain on July 23 and Colaco said it would now be a "mountain to climb" for his team to beat the visitors by a bigger margin and advance to the next stage.
"After the 0-3 loss, it is a mountain to climb for us. It will be very difficult for us to advance to the next stage," Colaco told reporters at the pre-match press conference here.
"UAE are a tough side with strong and skillful players. Their number 15 (striker Ismail Al Hammadi) and number 5 (midfielder Abdulla Hussain Al Hammadi) are classic players. Two defenders number 7 (Ali Ahmed Al Wahebi) and number 17 (Yousef Jaber Al Hammadi) provide thrust to attack," he said.
The 0-3 loss meant that Colaco is in a dilemma whether to go full throttle searching for goals or to fall back and defend.
"My worry is, if we go for an all-out attack, we may concede goals and we cannot do that at any cost. So our defence will have to be compact. We cannot give their frontmen space. We will put more people upfront but at the same time we will have to ensure that we do not conceded goal," he said.
"But we are up for the challenge and I have told my players to give their best, just go out and enjoy their game. The plus point from the first match was that we played really well for 75 minutes and conceded just one goal with nine men."
Asked if it would be advantageous for his side if it rains on Thursday, Colaco said, "Rain could be a problem for us as it will not allow us to keep the ball for long. But we have Plan B. We have Under-23 players and I will tell them to kick the ball and run."
Colaco hoped that a big crowd will turn up at Ambedkar Stadium to cheer his side.
India had won two Nehru Cup titles (2007 and 2009) and AFC Challenge Cup in 2008 at the venue.
"All the players love Ambedkar Stadium because of the crowd support. It has been a lucky ground. I hope a big crowd will turn up tomorrow," he said.
UAE coach Srecko Katanec understandably said that they had the advantage after their 3-0 win at home but would not take India lightly.
"India would be a tough team at home. They can be dangerous. In football we need to respect the opponents. We respect the Indian team and players," the coach said.
"But we had the advantage after our 3-0 win and we are confident that we will do well tomorrow also," he added.
Katanec said the two red cards shown by the Qatari referee to Indian goalkeeper Subrata Paul and Debabrata Roy in the first leg at Al Ain were rightly given.
"Both the red cards are justified. We don`t have television near us when the incidents happen. But you come to know afterwards in television footages. Rules are rules. If you committed a foul when you are the last man then it was a red card. If a goalkeeper kicked an opponent it will be a red card. After a match every coach will say such red cards were not justified but after seeing the television footage he may say otherwise," he said.
Katanec informed that striker Theyab Awana who scored from a back-heel penalty against Lebanon before the game against India at Al Ain is in the squad here and whatever happened has become history.
"His act was not acceptable but I have said enough about this. You need to show respect to opponents. But he is with the team," he said.