Spirited India ready for UAE challenge
Dubai: Fresh from their historic 2-1 win over Qatar in an international friendly, an inspired India will look to put up a spirited show when they take on UAE in the first leg of their 2014 World Cup qualifiers in Al Ain near on Saturday.
The United Arab Emirates, ranked 110 in the world, are certainly the better side, and will come into this game as clear favourites. They will also have the home advantage.
However, considering the current form of the Indian team, coach Armando Colaco is confident his boy`s will put their best foot forward and will play to their potential at the Sheikh Khalifa International Stadium here.
"UAE surely have the advantage but my boys are up for the challenge. They are really playing good football at the moment," Colaco said.
In the build-up to the World Cup qualifiers, India played two friendlies against Maldives and Qatar. While they were held to a 1-1 draw by Maldives, a historic victory was achieved when India defeated Qatar 2-1.
"Every game we played was a great learning experience. This is a new team and it`s a good build up for the future. The Boys are eager to play and give out their best," he added.
"The boys are really putting up a lot of effort in this progress. I am sure they will rise to the occasion."
The win against Qatar came at a time when Indian football was dealing with the ouster of coach Bob Houghton, who was replaced by Colaco.
India, under Colaco, produced brilliant football against higher-ranked Qatar and a draw and a win from two away international friendlies is a decent result for a team that doesn`t have the reputation of playing well abroad.
However, Saturday would be the litmus test for the India, who beat UAE 1-0 in a World Cup qualifier in Bangalore in 2001.
UAE have their own set of problems with some of their key players such as goalkeeper Majid Nasser, skipper Subait Khater and superstar Ismail Mattar set to miss due to injuries.
Left winger Abdulla Mosa too has already ruled himself out and it has to be seen if the injuries would affect their game when they clash with India.
India, on the other hand, have displayed their skills against Qatar and Maldives and the same set of players are likely to be retained by Colaco in the starting line-up
expected to be captained by Goan Climax Lawrence.
Colaco said that their outing in Doha will help the team in Saturday`s match.
"Qatar team is as good as UAE. The idea was to get acclimatize to the condition," he said.
UAE have good memories from their last outing against India in November last year, which they won 5-0 but coach Srecko Katanec refused to take the Indians lightly and felt it won`t be an easy outing.
"Indian team plays an aggressive football. I don`t expect an easy match, their result against Qatar was a good one for them and it speaks itself," he added.