Bengaluru:India face stiff task against ‘favourites’ Guam

Bengaluru, Nov 11 (IANS) Low-in-confidence India will aim for their first win of the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers when they host Guam in a return leg match at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium here on Thursday.

India dropped five places to be 172nd in the latest FIFA rankings, and are at the bottom of Group D in the World Cup qualifiers and have slim chances of qualifying for the Asian Cup by finishing third.

India have lost all their five matches played so far in Group D headed by Oman. Guam are in the fourth place.

Guam, 155th in the rankings, have beaten India 2-1 in June in the first leg match and will play their away match with full confidence.

The home side’s hopes of progressing to the second round of the qualifiers are already over and if they don’t take the home advantage, they might not even qualify for the 2019 Asian Cup.

With both the sides training for the match amidst heavy rain here, India coach Stephen Constantine has already announced Guam as favourites for the match.

Guam arrived here a couple of days earlier than India assembled to acclimatise to the conditions.

“Guam have seven points. They are above us in the FIFA Rankings. So they are the favourites. But at the end of the day, it’s what you do on the pitch which determines the result,” Constantine said on Wednesday.

“In any case, we didn’t play particularly well, which has been the case in all of our away games so far. Four games later, we are a better side than we were then. I have respect for Guam and their coach as they do. But we need the points to give ourselves the chance of making the playoffs,” he said.

India have so far played two matches at the Kanteerava stadium. The first against Oman which they lost 1-2. The second losing 0-3 to Iran.

“When I came here in 2015, I was under no illusion as to the difficulties and challenges that lay ahead. We had not qualified for the World Cup Qualifiers in eight years,” Constantine said.

“I believe that this group of players that we have and the others that will follow will make us into a competitive team in the months and years to come,” the coach said.


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