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SAG2016- Sri Lanka faces hosts India in football

SAG2016- Sri Lanka faces hosts India in football

The Indian U23 team will take on Sri Lanka in the opening football tie of the 12th South Asian Games (SAG), hosted in Guwahati, Assam, on Saturday, 6th February, 2016. India have been paired into group A, alongside Sri Lanka and the Maldives, in a three team group. 

The Indian squad consists of players who are fresh from a South Asian Football Federation's (SAFF) championship title win, earlier this year, in Kerala. The Sri Lankan squad too are composed of semi-finalists from this year's SAFF championship run.

The Indian colts head into this tie full on confidence, as their coach, Lee Johnson, has already said they seek to emulate their senior team, in terms to trophy wins. 

Aiborlang Khongjee and Sandesh Jhingan wil make up the heart of the defence, whilst T.P. Rehenesh will be between the sticks. Pritam Kotal hasn't had the most emanating start to the season and his loss of form has been highlighted by a fair few. Therefore it is quite possible Mohun Bagan youngster Prabir Das will make the cut, whilst Narayan Das slots into the left-back position. 

Rowllin Borges and Pronay Halder will start in midfield with both of them showing splendid form during their respective teams' I-League campaigns, besides participating in the SAFF Cup win. Ahead of them, Udanta Singh's exceptional pace and trickery whilst at Bengaluru will have him earmarked a spot down the left, whilst Jayesh Rane should nail down a place on the right. Should he require, Dempo's Germanpreet Singh can easily slot into midfield as well. 

This leaves a question of the striking department. Thongkhosiem Haokip is recovering from an injury and it remains to be seen if he will start. 

Johnson should implement a 4-2-3-1 with the options availble to him, but he can switch to a 4-3-3 as well with ease, as the likes of Holicharan Narzary, Vinit Rai and Lallianzuala Chhangte, who was one of India's youngest scorers at the international stage in the SAFF, all available to him. 

Sri Lanka, on the other hand, will be vying to increase their football imprint accross the Subcontinent. The Lankans have a relatively young squad at international level and they will have their eyes on making an impression and there is no better way to do so than against hosts India. 

Eyes particularly will be on 19 year-old Zarwan Johar, who has nine senior caps to his name and an international goal to boot. He will be watched alongside Chaturanga Madushan and Asikumar Rahuman, who are two of the most capped Lankan defenders at U23 level. The Lankan Lions should head into this game with a five-man midfield. Kavindu Ishan, Sri Lanka's leading goal scorer started ion the bench in the SAFF clash against India, but he could be helming the attack come staurday.

The last time India participated at the South Asian Games, it was in the 2010 edition hosted in Dhaka, Bangladesh. That time, the 11th edition was fraught with disillusionment for the squad, who didn't even finish the tournament with a medal.

With a squad burgeoning with talent, the expectations will be to capture gold amongst the region's nations. The first step however has to be a win over southern rivals Sri Lanka. India and Sri Lanka have faced each other 15 times over the years in competitive capacities, with India coming out as winners on eight of those occasions, whilst Sri Lanka have won three. Four games have ended as stalemates. 

Kick off is at 2 PM IST.   

Posted on 2016-02-06 13:23:01
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QUESTION?

Should Dilshan have continued until Cricket World Cup 2019?

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THE DAY'S QUOTE

“That was pathetic. No excuse at all. The whole team is responsible. Whoever the captain is, we have to back him and try and support him. The captain has to do so many other stuff. All the 11 guys must back him and support him.” “We have addressed the issue of finishing off the overs on time in the past as well, but it cropped up again. It’s so unfortunate to see Upul going out as he is a crucial player in our set up. He batted well against South Africa and it’s so unfortunate. This can’t happen again,” - Angelo Mathews

FEEDBACK/COMMENTS

Cricket is a game of fine margins and Mathews is set to be a modern great. Hang in their Angie, this team can achieve something on this tour. Thirimane and the youngsters form was a real positive. Prasad was missed. Chameera should be persisted with. If Bairstow was our early outcome could have been very different.

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