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India, Pakistan face-off in moutherwatering football friendly

Last updated on: August 16, 2014 17:43 IST

India, Pakistan face-off in moutherwatering football friendly

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In what will be a curtain-raiser to the upcoming Asian Games, India and Pakistan resume their rivalry on the football pitch as they lock horns in the first of two friendly matches in Bangalore on Sunday, bringing to an end a nine-year old hiatus.

It will be the first such series between the two countries since 2005 when India visited Pakistan for a three-match competition. The second friendly between the two Under 23 teams is scheduled for August 20.

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Image: India captain Sunil Chhetri, second left, with teammates
Photographs: AIFF Media

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India, Pakistan face-off in moutherwatering football friendly

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India drew their last friendly earlier this year - against Bangladesh on March 5 - and coach Wim Koevermans would be desperately seeking to win both the games against Pakistan, to be played at Bangalore Football Stadium.

India should start as favourites considering they are ranked 150th in the FIFA charts as against Pakistan, who are placed at 165th spot, but Koevermans' men would not like to be complacent.

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Image: Wim Koevermans
Photographs: AIFF Media

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India, Pakistan face-off in moutherwatering football friendly

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India skipper Sunil Chhetri had already said they the hosts can't take is as ‘just another game’.

The friendly series, sponsored and hosted by JSW Group, would provide an opportunity for India and Pakistan players to test their Asian Games-bound squad.

Upfront, India will heavily bank on Chhetri to provide the goals. The pint-sized Chhetri did his job by scoring all the five goals during the Indian team's exposure trip to Czech Republic.

His presence on the field against arch rivals Pakistan would be enough to put fear in the opposition ranks and raise the moral of the young Indian team.

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Image: Sunil Chhetri
Photographs: AIFF Media

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India, Pakistan face-off in moutherwatering football friendly

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Alwyn George, an attacking midfielder, would look to put up a good show, especially after his poor form last season.

Pranoy Haldar, who has played well for Dempo as a defensive midfielder, could prove to be handy for a relatively weaker defence.

Narayan Das, find of last season for the national team, is an attacking full back and the opponents might find it difficult to beat this Indian player.

Koevermans would like his defence to put up a much better show after it was exposed during the Czech tour as the visitors conceded seven goals in three matches.

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Image: Team India during the flag hoisting
Photographs: AIFF Media

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Pakistan, on the other hand, will depend on the heroics of striker Kaleemullah and winger Mohammad Adil, who recently signed long-term lucrative contracts with Kyrgyzstan giants Dordoi Bishkek.

Kaleemullah is the top-scorer in the Kyrgyzstan league with 17 goals in 16 games.

Midfield dynamo, Saddam, will look to give the much-needed support to Kaleemullah.

2005 was the last time when India toured Pakistan. The hosts then scored more goals than the visitors, but the three-match series ended with both countries winning a game apiece.

India pulled off a 1-0 victory in Peshawar after they drew 1-1 in the first match at Quetta. However, the hosts came back strongly in the third game at Lahore, exposing the Indian defence thrice.


Image: Fans at the stadium in Bangalore
Photographs: AIFF Media

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