Olympic Qualifiers: India face uphill task

The Indian Under-23 national team go into their second-leg encounter against Qatar in the 2012 London Olympics - Asian Round 2 qualifier needing a victory with at least two goals, then they were beaten 3-1 by Qatar at the Al-Sadd Stadium in Doha on Sunday.

India will need at least a 2-0 win to progress from the tie, but it won't be an easy task for Desmond Bulpin's boys. The weather in Pune is in favour of India as the wet conditions could cause problems to the Qataris who are more used to dry desert conditions.

The India Juniors know that they have a tough task on had and they need to focus on the task on hand. Jeje Lalpekhlua said, "A footballer ought to forget the past fast. We need to look ahead. That's football."

The youngsters know they didn't play a good match in Doha. "We need to admit they are a technically better side," Shilton D'Silva quipped. "But we know what we are capable of. We need to play our best; we couldn't do that at the Al Sadd," Jewel Raja adds.

Qatar didn't have the best of journey's across from Doha to Pune. They landed at the Pune Airport as late as 4am in the morning today and looked visibly tired. The squad waited for almost eight hours at the Doha International Airport, waiting for a landing permission from the Pune Airport.

Coach Simondi Bernard stressed the 3-1 lead looks good but could have been better. "Bulpin utilised his boys well. It’s India’s Home-Match and we will be careful."

In training over the last couple of days Bulpin has been focusing on set-plays and captain Raju Gaekwad's throw-in's are surely part of the Indian armoury which could upset the Qataris as the seventh minute goal in Doha. And Raju said, "We will play for a win. We have to go all out. There aren't many other options left."

"If we go all out, we need to be careful when they counter-attack. They are very good in passing the ball," Bulpin tried to draw a balance.

Coach Desmond Bulpin has made two changes to his 18 player squad. Ongnam Milan Singh replaces Zakir Mundampara while Jagtar Singh comes in for Snehashis Chakraborty. If he would make any changes to the starting line-up isn't known yet.

The match will kick-off at the Balewadi Sports Complex and it will be telecast live on TenAction+ and 24 Ghanta from 19.00 IST onwards.


Laxmikant Kattimani (Dempo SC), Gurpreet Singh Sandhu (Indian Arrows)

Raju Eknath Gaekwad (Captain, Indian Arrows), Abhishek Das (Indian Arrows), Deepak Devrani (Indian Arrows), Gurjinder Kumar (Pune FC), Arnab Mondal (Chirag United), Shahbas Shaleel (ONGC)

Kh. Jibon Singh (Indian Arrows), Shilton D'Silva (Indian Arrows), Jewel Raja Sheikh (Indian Arrows), Lalrindika Ralte (Indian Arrows), Ongnam Milan Singh (Indian Arrows), Anthony Barbosa (Salgaocar SC)

Jeje Lalpekhlua (Indian Arrows), C.S. Sabeeth (Viva Kerala), Manandeep Singh (Indian Arrows), Jagtar Singh (Indian Arrows)

Desmond Bulpin (Coach)

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