India must capitalise against Kyrgyzstan

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Updated: February 25, 2007 09:28 IST
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Leaders India need to convert chances into goals and play more as a team against Kyrgyzstan tomorrow to make it to the final round of the Asian under-20 soccer championship. Having culled four points from two outings, India now occupy the top spot in the group; but the final climb on the morrow at the floodlit Salt Lake Stadium looks all the more steep for them. Breathing down their neck in the group IV qualifiers is Tajikistan, now lying second, who have the same number of points as the Indians, but lag behind on goal difference. They play Bhutan in the first encounter of the day, and on current form look certain to romp to a victory by a comfortable margin. With tournament rules ensuring a final round berth for only the winners of a qualifying group, it is for all practical purposes a must-win situation for the hosts to book a ticket for Qatar in October; though theoretically a draw or even a 0-2 loss can carry them forward, provided Bhutan, the youngest FIFA member, can pull off a miraculous victory over the former Soviet Republic. All eyes would therefore be focussed on the Bhutan-Tajikistan clash, which will set the stage for the Indo-Kyrgyz encounter. Indian Chief Coach, Islam Akhmedov, however, seemed pessimistic about his side's prospects. ''We have a very slim chance of making the cut,'' he said, expressing his unhappiness about the team's showing in the goalless draw against Tajikistan after the 4-1 win over Bhutan. (PTI)

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