Intercontinental Cup 2019: India hope for improved show in do-or-die match against North Korea

Defending champions India suffered a 2-4 defeat against Tajikistan on 7 July and that result has placed them in a precarious position in the race for the final.

Press Trust of India July 12, 2019 18:59:50 IST
Intercontinental Cup 2019: India hope for improved show in do-or-die match against North Korea
  • Defending champions India suffered a 2-4 defeat against Tajikistan in the first match

  • India must beat North Korea to keep their chances to reach the final alive

  • Tajikistan currently lead the points table of the quadrangular tournament

Ahmedabad: Embarrassed by Tajikistan in the opening match, hosts India will be desperate for a better show when they take on North Korea in a do-or-die match of Intercontinental Cup football tournament, on Saturday.

Defending champions India suffered a 2-4 defeat against Tajikistan on 7 July and that result has placed them in a precarious position in the race for the final.

Intercontinental Cup 2019 India hope for improved show in doordie match against North Korea

Sunil Chhetri scored two goals in India's 2-4 defeat against Tajikistan. @IndianFootball

The top two teams will make it to the final in the four-team event. India cannot lose any match out of the remaining two if they are to qualify for the final on 19 July.

India led 2-0 at half time against Tajikistan through goals from captain Sunil Chhetri but then let in four goals in the second half to lose the match. An out-of-sorts Indian defence crumbled into pieces and undid all the good work done in the first session.

Adil Khan and debutant Narender Gahlot, who manned the central defence, were found wanting on many occasions, while wing backs Rahul Bheke and Mandar Rao Desai also struggled. Most of Tajikistan attacks came from the right side through Bheke.

The Indian back-four committed mistakes after mistakes in the second half but to be fair to them, all of them were an inexperienced lot at the international stage. Gahlot and Desai debuted for India in that match while Adil and Bheke were just a few matches old.

Senior player and defensive mainstay Sandesh Jhingan did not play as he had a minor niggle while his earlier long time partner in central defence, Anas Edathodika, who was called out from retirement, was not 100 per cent fit and did not make it to the final 23-member squad.

But the Indian team will now be boosted with the likely return of Jhingan who is available for the North Korea match. He is expected to marshall the Indian defence to a much improved show.

North Korea will also go into Saturday's match with the same mind set as India as they had suffered a 2-5 defeat against Syria in their campaign opener.

Their defence also looked shaky against Syria, letting in five goals, with four coming in the second half, and Chhetri and Co will look to exploit the chinks in North Korea's armoury.

Chhetri scored India's first goal against Tajikistan through a cheeky 'panenka' from the dreaded spot in the fourth minute and another clinical finish in the 41st minute to showcase his goal-scoring prowess.

The talismanic Indian captain would look to continue his red-hot form and if the home side defence come up with an improved show, Igor Stimac's men would hope for their first win of the tournament.

Goalkepeer Gurpreet Singh Sandhu said the team can fix the mistakes.

"It's not much of a worry for me as a player and for my other teammates as well. I am sure that everyone is ready to learn, which is important, and make sure that we grow stronger day by day."

"The whole team is focused on the match against DPR Korea. What's done is done and we are not thinking about the loss to Tajikistan. We have been working hard so as to not repeat the mistakes we made. We want to play better," said midfielder Amarjit Singh.

Updated Date:

Subscribe to Moneycontrol Pro at ₹499 for the first year. Use code PRO499. Limited period offer. *T&C apply

also read

Bundesliga: Bayern Munich teenager Jamal Musiala announces decision to play for German national team
Sports

Bundesliga: Bayern Munich teenager Jamal Musiala announces decision to play for German national team

Musiala turns 18 on Friday and marked only his fourth Champions League appearance by slotting home a first-half goal as Bayern routed Lazio 4-1 in Tuesday's last 16, first leg tie in Rome.

Premier League: West Bromwich Albion manager Sam Allardyce says relegation 'might not affect' his credibility
Sports

Premier League: West Bromwich Albion manager Sam Allardyce says relegation 'might not affect' his credibility

Second-bottom Albion are 11 points from safety and looked destined to drop into the Championship with only 13 games left to climb out of the relegation zone.

Premier League: Pressure of coaching at highest level 'like oxygen,' says Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho
Sports

Premier League: Pressure of coaching at highest level 'like oxygen,' says Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho

Mourinho's job has come under scrutiny after a run of five Premier League defeats in six games left them ninth in the table — nine points outside the top four.