Olympic Qualifiers: India play for good first leg result

Tomorrow the Indian national Under-23 team face Qatar in their first leg away tie in the 2012 London Olympics - Asian Round 2 qualifiers at the Al Saad Stadium in Doha later today.

And the stadium brings back memories to January's 2011 AFC Asian Cup where Team India faced Australia and Bahrain at this very ground. In both matches it was a home game for our boys with most fans being Indian. And hopefully many Indians based in Qatar once more will find their way to the ground to give the team the necessary support.

This is a hope that coach Desmond Bulpin has too, "We would hope for support as there are a lot of Indians in Doha. I would want them to come in large numbers."

Two close games can be expected if one looks back at the last match between these two sides in November 2010 in the Guangzhou Asian Games, which Qatar won 2-1 with two late goals. And the India boys have gained in experience over the last few months by playing in the I-League, but Qatar have prepared their under-23 team with a month long camp abroad in Spain.

There in Spain the Qataris drew with Real Madrid's second team 1-1, while beating FC Getafe 1-0 and in a recent friendly they won 4-0 against Malaysia. Qatar are fully prepared, but still India go into the game knowing that they have a chance.

At the pre-match press conference striker Jeje Lalpekhlua said, "We will play to win."

His coach Desmond Bulpin echoed the same sentiment but added a cautious note to it, "Qatar are a more technically equipped side than us. But we are here to play pressing football. With some luck we may have a positive result too."

"I won't say, we will win but we will play for a win," added Bulpin who has instilled a certain self-belief in his boys.

"I won't mind a draw. It's our away-match and we would like to score," ended Bulpin

Meanwhile Qatar's French coach Simondi Bernard has clear plans for his side. Simondi Bernard like his team will take India seriously, but he left no doubt that Qatar would move on into the group stages, then if he loses Bernard can look for a new job.

Midfielder Fadi Omar spoke about the Asian Games tie, "India are a tough team. I know it because they almost beat us the last time."

And for those Indian boys who where there in Guangzhou the tie is still a scar on their football track record.

Midfielder Jewel Raja said, "We were leading till the 80th minute. Had we converted the chances that came our way, we could have finished it off much earlier."

India aren't fully fit and the doubtful starter is captain Raju Eknath Gaekwad who had picked up a twisted ankle during practice in Pune before coming to Doha. Raju has been a key player in this squad and hopefully he will be fit to start the game to add stability at the back.

The match will kick-off at 19.15 local time (21.45 IST) and will be shown live in India on TenAction+.

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