Searching for its first win in an international friendly this year, the Indian football team takes on Philippines here tomorrow without a quartet of senior players who were left out due to various reasons.
India lost both their international friendlies earlier this year -- against Palestine in February and Tajikistan in August -- and coach Wim Kovermans would be desperately seeking to win tomorrow and against Nepal (Nov 19), both matches to be played at Kanchenjunga Stadium in Siliguri.
The home side would be playing without some of their regular players -- goalkeeper Subarta Paul, defenders Gouramangi Singh and Nirmal Chhetri and midfielder Syed Rahim Nabi.
The Filipinos should start as favourites considering they are ranked 117th in the FIFA charts as against a lowly 154th India, but Koevermans’ men would be banking on home advantage.
Both sides have come for Friday’s match after facing defeats in their last matches. While India lost 0-2 to Afghanistan in the SAFF Cup in September, Philippines were beaten 4-0 by the UAE in their international friendly.
Koevermans does not consider his team an inexperienced one and said his players were raring to go.
“Look carefully and you will find experience all over. International football is always played at a different tempo. The first practice session at national camp is of much higher intensity that what you normally have in your clubs. The boys have responded well and I look forward to their response in the match,” Koevermans said at the pre-match press conference.
“We did not win the SAFF Final, a match which we deserved to win. When I took over as Indian national team coach I had stressed on playing on as many FIFA dates as possible. We could have easily picked up any other weaker opposition but we intend to play against stronger teams,” he added.
“We appreciate Philippines coming over to play, especially during difficult times,” Koevermans stated.
Welcoming the Philippines contingent, India captain Sunil Chhetri said, “Our heart goes out to all who unfortunately succumbed in Typhoon Haiyan. Our Prayers continue so that everything comes back to normal in your country.”
“I’ve had a look at Team India videos and am aware about the progress which Indian Team has made since March 2012 when we last played them. We watched the SAFF Championship Final and know India play a very high intensity. They are an aggressive Team,” Philippines coach Micheal Hans Weib said.
“It’s difficult to predict the result but we aim to win high,” said the German.
A minute’s silence will be observed prior to the kick-off as a mark of respect to those who died because of typhoon Haiyan.
The two sides have faced each other four times so far with India having won twice while Philippines were victorious on one occasion. One match was drawn. The last time the two sides met in the AFC Challenge Cup in Kathmandu in March 2012, Philippines had beaten India 2-0.
Match Starts: 6pm IST.