The Blue Tigers will play their second friendly game against the same opponents on September 5.

Led by head coach Igor Stimac, India return to football action during the international break with two friendly games against Nepal. The Blue Tigers have already reached Kathmandu for the games, with Stimac wanting to use the opportunity to gear up for the upcoming SAFF Championship.

After getting a new contract, Stimac needs some wins to prove why he deserved to stay as the Blue Tigers’ manager. Nepal might be below India in the FIFA rankings, but they’re not to be taken lightly. They’re also keen on getting a few wins to prove that they’re no pushovers.

The Stakes

Of course, the upcoming games are friendlies. Is qualification into any major tournament depending on it? No. Are the coming games must-win ones? For Stimac, yes. The Croatian had a pretty dismal initial stint with India.

In 15 games under him, the Blue Tigers only won twice – losing seven and drawing six! In his defence, Stimac didn’t get the team as regularly as he’d wanted. Nor was he able to hold many games with them to create the chemistry he wanted. However, that won’t be able to save him anymore.

The Croatian has to impress during the remainder of his contract. To start things off, he has to win games against lower-ranked teams like Nepal. The Croatian will probably shuffle around his team, but has to show signs of improvement. This includes better performances, more attacking football and more goals.

But, Nepal won’t be backing down that easily. The Gorkhalis might be way behind India in the FIFA rankings, but they’ll hope to make good use of home advantage. After a disappointing FIFA World Cup Qualifying campaign, they’ll hope to get back to winning ways.

The Gorkhalis have some quality players that can stun India, if they’re not careful. Being the underdogs in this one, they’ll play without pressure in an attempt to embarrass the Blue Tigers. In that case, there’s a lot riding on these games – which is why Nepal will hope to get something from them.

Nepal Vs India Team News

Nepal have excluded some of their prominent names like Arpan Karki, Sisir Lekhi and Abhishek Rijal – who has played for Mohammedan Sporting and Aizawl FC in the past – against India.

The 24-man squad India have travelled with doesn’t contain some big players like Udanta Singh and Ishan Pandita. Sandesh Jhingan, of course, hasn’t travelled as he’s currently playing for Croatian side HNK Sibenik.

Nepal Vs India Probable Lineups

Nepal XI: Kiran Limbu (GK); Gautam Shrestha, Ananta Tamang, Pujan Uperkoti, Suman Aryal; Santosh Tamang, Tej Tamang, Suman Lama; Anjan Bista, Nawayug Shrestha, Manish Dangi;

India XI: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu (GK); Seriton Fernandes, Pritam Kotal, Chinglensana Singh, Akash Mishra; Glan Martins, Suresh Wangjam, Brandon Fernandes; Liston Colaco, Manvir Singh, Sunil Chhetri.

Man To Watch

Santosh Tamang (Nepal)

Santosh Tamang has been one player who has impressed in midfield under the tutelage of Nepal head coach Abdullah Almutairi. In addition to his outside runs, Tamang can effectively operate both as a No. 6 and a No. 8. The 27-year-old is skillful and always looks to progress while he’s on the ball.

Considering his abilities, Nepal’s ball progression from midfield against India is threaded to the Biratnagar City star. 

Liston Colaco (India)

Stimac is expected to give youngsters plenty of opportunities in the friendlies and Liston Colaco should feature heavily. The young attacker was arguably ATK Mohun Bagan’s best domestic (or even overall) player in their AFC Cup campaign. Colaco’s excellent dribbling ability, feisty attitude in the attacking third and determination makes him one of a kind.

He should have fun attacking Nepal’s defenders and trouble them with his pace. After seeing him excel in the AFC Cup, it’ll be exciting to see how Colaco turns up for the Blue Tigers and whether or not he can replicate his heroics from the club level.

Did You Know?

  • India have faced Nepal on 19 occasions in history, winning 13 of those games.
  • The Blue Tigers are undefeated in their last five games against Nepal, having won four of them and scored 10 goals.
  • The last time Nepal defeated India was back in 2013, beating the Blue Tigers in a SAFF Championship clash
  • Sunil Chhetri has scored five goals in his meetings against Nepal. The Chinese Taipei (6) and Maldives (6) are the only sides he’s scored more against in his international career.

Telecast

Both Nepal vs India friendlies will be streamed live on Indian Football Team’s official Facebook page.

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