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India aim to maintain winning momentum against Nepal

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  17 March 2015 12:00 AM GMT

Kathmandu, March 16: After scripting a convincing win over Nepal in the first leg of the World Cup qualifier at home, India are on guard against complacency as they aim for an encore against their Himalayan neighbours in the return match here on Tuesday.

The first leg game was one-sided with India winning 2-0, thanks to a brace by Sunil Chhetri, who would have scored a hat-trick had Nepal goalkeeper Kiran Kumar Limbu not staved off a pelty.

Even though a draw or a one-goal loss in the second leg against Nepal will ensure India a spot in the next round of both 2018 World Cup 2018 and 2019 Asia Cup qualifiers, a win will certainly come as a big boost for the visitors ahead of the second round.

India will again bank on their key upfronters Chhetri and Robin Singh to upset the opposition rear-guards with attacking medio Cavin Lobo boosting the attack. Veteran Subrata Paul, newly anointed team skipper, would do duty under the bar.

Pushed on the back-foot, Nepal would try to pep themselves up by recounting their 2-1 triumph over India in the SAFF Championship. They would have the added advantage of playing on familiar territory before their roaring fans at the Dasrath Stadium.

India coach Stephen Constantine sounded a note of caution to his boys, saying, "The first half has just been over. It is still to be played. If you ask me, 2-0 is a very deceiving scoreline. If Nepal score, the game changes. I have said this from the very beginning that this will be a very difficult task for us.

"The game is still available for both teams. With a vociferous crowd backing them, Nepal will want to score an early goal which would give them the momentum to push ahead. We need to prevent that. We need to maintain the shape and discipline."

The same sentiment was echoed by Nepal head coach Jack Stefanowski, who sounded a confident note mentioning that the match is all "about pride".

"The result in the first-leg was disappointing for us. It added to our confidence playing against a good team. This is our home match and we are confident," he said.

A return leg win in the Nepal capital will help India earn a massive 128 points, currently having 74 in FIFA points system. India is ranked 173 while Nepal are placed at 180.

More importantly, these vital points might help India turn up in a relatively easy group in the second round of qualifying process. IANS

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