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WC football qualifier: India ready for UAE

July 22, 2011 17:12 IST

Fresh from their historic 2-1 victory over Qatar in an international friendly, an inspired India will look to put up a spirited show when they take on UAE in the first leg of their 2014 World Cup qualifiers in Al Ain near Dubai on Saturday.

The United Arab Emirates, ranked 110 in the world, is certainly the better side, and go into the game as clear favourites. They also have the home advantage.

However, considering the current form of the Indian team, coach Armando Colaco is confident his boys will put their best foot forward and play to their potential at the Sheikh Khalifa International stadium.

"UAE surely have the advantage but my boys are up for the challenge. They are really playing good football at the moment," Colaco said.

In the build-up to the World Cup qualifiers, India played two friendlies, against Maldives and Qatar. While they were held to a 1-1 draw by Maldives, a historic victory was achieved when India defeated Qatar 2-1.

"Every game we played was a great learning experience. This is a new team and it's a good build-up for the future. The boys are eager to play and give out their best.

"The boys are really putting up a lot of effort in this progress. I am sure they will rise to the occasion," he said.

The win against Qatar came at a time when Indian football was dealing with the ouster of coach Bob Houghton, who was replaced by Colaco.

India, under Colaco, produced brilliant football against higher-ranked Qatar and a draw and a win from two away international friendlies is a decent result for a team that doesn't have the reputation of playing well abroad.

However, Saturday will be the litmus test for the India, who beat UAE 1-0 in a World Cup qualifier in Bangalore in 2001.

The UAE have their own set of problems, with some of their key players, like goalkeeper Majid Nasser, skipper Subait Khater and superstar Ismail Mattar, set to miss the game due to injuries.

Left winger Abdulla Mosa too has already ruled himself out and it remains to be seen if the injuries will affect their game when they clash with India.

Colaco is likely to retain the same set of players who did duty against Maldives and Qatar in the starting line-up, expected to be captained by Goa's Climax Lawrence.

Colaco said the Doha outing should stand the team in good stead.

"Qatar team is as good as UAE. The idea was to get acclimatized to the conditions," he said.

The UAE have good memories from their last outing against India last November, which they won 5-0, but coach Srecko Katanec refused to take the Indians lightly and felt it won't be an easy outing.

"Indian team plays an aggressive football. I don't expect an easy match, their result against Qatar was a good one for them and it speaks itself," he added.

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