India up against it in UAE

India up against it in UAE

By Arunava Chaudhuri - AFF Indian correspondent

The United Arab Emirates are set to host India in the first-leg of their 2014 FIFA World Cup - Asian Round 2 home-and-away qualifier on Saturday at the Sheikh Khalifa International Stadium in Al Ain City.

India train during the week in preparation for tonight's game against the UAE

If one goes by the FIFA world rankings then the Middle Eastern side are favourites, 110th vs 147th; but the charm of football as the beautiful game is its unpredictability so it is a 50-50 chance for both sides to progress to the Asian group stage.

Both teams come into this game with a positive frame of mind, then both sides won their final international friendly last Sunday. The UAE trashed Lebanon 7-2 at Al Ain, while India scored a 2-1 upset win against Qatar in Doha.

Still the UAE go into the tie as the favourites and an Indian win would be seen as a major upset though a decade back on April 8, 2001 India had beaten the UAE in Bangalore on home soil 1-0 in a 2002 FIFA World Cup qualifier, but India lost the away tie thereafter 1-0 and the UAE would move into the final Asian round from the group stage.

Talking about the chances of his team India coach Armando Colaco said, “UAE surely have the advantage but my boys are up for the challenge. They are really playing good football at the moment.”

“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,” Armando added speaking about the 1-1 draw against the Maldives and the 2-1 win against Qatar.

“The boys are really putting up a lot of effort in this progress. I am sure they will rise to the occasion,” Armando further said.

Armando takes a lot of promise from the surprise 2-1 win against Qatar, who are similar in style and strength to the UAE; which was a rare win for an Indian side against Middle Eastern opposition in recent times.

Meanwhile UAE coach Srecko Katanec in careful, “The Indian team plays aggressive football. I don’t expect an easy match, their result against Qatar was a good one for them and it speaks itself.”

One can only hope that India isn’t carried away by their win against Qatar last Sunday and is brought crashing down to earth by the UAE. In their last friendly in November 2010 India had lost 0-5 against the UAE and that could be also on the mind of both sides though India is a changed formation compared to last year.

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