x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Confident India bank on home record to negate UAE's big lead

Down 3-0, UAE rivals are looking at the way they fought against odds to inspire them to do better with a strong advantage of playing in New Delhi.

Armando Colaco, the national coach Srecko Katanec's counterpart, says his India side has the confidence of overturning the huge 3-0 deficit going by the way they fought against the odds in the first leg of their World Cup qualifying match in Al Ain last weekend.

Colaco's men showed some early match jitters and lost two players to red cards but held on till another late goal made it more difficult for the South Asian hope despite returning to New Delhi to enjoy a strong home advantage tomorrow.

While Ismail Rashid, the UAE team director, blamed a "lack of focus in front of the goal", the India striker Sunil Chhetri added to Colaco's belief that it would have been a different story had not Qatari referee Banjar Al Dosari handed out the cards by the 23rd minute of the game.

"After what has happened in UAE, we played with nine men for about 75 minutes. It has put a lot of confidence for the home leg," Chhetri said. "It's the chance for other players to prove themselves.

"We were emotionally charged, really pumped up after beating Qatar and one month camp. I really think if it was 11 vs 11 players it would not have happened the way it happened."

Colaco added: "We know we have a tough task in hand but we are ready for the next encounter and if we can get an early goal, the result can be overturned.

"The two red cards were unfair. I had written to the Asian Football Confederation in the past that Gulf referees should be kept out of matches involving a Gulf team.

"I think my boys played excellently against UAE. If we leave out the two penalties, it was like a goalless draw until the 81st minute. UAE never looked like a great team and had we played with 11 boys, I think we could even have beaten them."

The coach also had praise for reserve goalkeeper Karanjit Singh, who took over from Subrata Pal, one of the two expelled players.

"Karanjit played exceptionally well in the last match. I know, Subrata is a great goalkeeper, but nothing can be taken away from Karanjit," Colaco said.

"Our defence will have to play a very compact game. These boys are really talented and putting in everything to do well for the country. They are very eager to play and leave a mark in the home match."

India has won three tournaments in as many years at the Ambedkar Stadium and Chhetri acknowledged that the large numbers will be a big help in motivating them.

"It is a lovely environment. Of course, it will be tough to beat UAE. But the important thing is not to think about what has happened in UAE but to think Thursday's match as a fresh game. It is about getting your whole act together."