Before the start of Group D play in the qualifying round of the AFC Asian Cup, Afghanistan was considered to be the main rivals of India. But many did not think that Hong Kong would change the whole picture by winning two matches in a row and occupying the top spot in the points table. Today, Sunil Chhetri will face the test of qualifying for the main stage of the Asian Cup by beating Hong Kong at the Yuvabharathi Stadium on Tuesday.
Football fans are already in a frenzy over the India vs Hong Kong match. They had been crowding in the tents of the three chiefs at the Maidan since Monday morning to collect tickets. In the evening, some people came to see the practice in Yuvabharathi. Sunil also took pictures with a small fan. Liston Colaco gave the upper of the national team as a gift. But 24 hours before the duo, the Indian camp was worried about Sandesh Jhingan and Udanta Singh. One of the reliable defences of the Indian team could not practice properly on Monday evening due to an injury in his leg muscle. He felt the muscle pain right after he started running. After that he just walked on the field with the physical trainer. Udanta’s is a hamstring injury. Although he has practiced. However, the Indian camp is hopeful that the two stars will recover before the match.
Coach Igor Stimac is not too worried about the substitute of Udanta. But the Indian team’s coach is growing worried while looking for an alternative to Sandesh. Who’s going to stop Matthew Orr, 6 feet 2 inches tall, Hong Kong’s best attacking weapon with great rhythm? He has scored goals in the previous two matches. Sandesh is the main hope of the Indian coach to stop Matthew. Sunil Chhetri-less Indian team’s attack is as unimaginable as Sandesh is essential to the defence. Especially, when the opponent is an aggressive team like Hong Kong’s. Against whom India lost in the last two meetings.
Words from Hong Kong coach
Hong Kong coach from Erling Haaland’s country, Jørn Andersen’s weapon is offensive football. Matthews launched a flurry of attacks against Afghanistan and Cambodia from the start. He told a press conference at Yuvabharathi on Monday afternoon, “We did not come to Kolkata with high expectations. But after two consecutive victories, the situation has changed completely. This match is the final for us.”
Will he make any changes in the tactics against India? The Hong Kong coach said: “Of course. We have analysed India’s game. It is one of the strongest teams in the group. India is also ahead of us in the FIFA rankings. We have discussed this with the footballers.” Anderson did not hide that his main concern was with Sunil. “The number 11 (Sunil) is great in India. We all know and have seen. But the Indian team has more than one good footballer. I am thinking of the whole team. It will be fine even if we get one point in this match. We are not thinking of anything but winning.”