New Delhi: Their new-found confidence having suffered a huge beating after their 0-3 loss in the away match, India face an uphill task to advance to the next stage of the 2014 World Cup football qualifiers as they take on United Arab Emirates on Thursday.
India had beaten Qatar 2-1 in an international friendly in Doha just before the World Cup qualifiers second round, raising hopes of a strong performance against the UAE in their away leg on July 23 at Al Ain. But, unfortunately, that was not to be.
To be fair to Armando Coalco's boys, they were a tad unlucky as their two players were given marching orders by the 24th minute and they conceded just one goal in 75 minutes with nine men on the field.
A candid Colaco admitted that it would now be tough even on home conditions though he is not giving up hope.
"After the 0-3 loss it is no doubt a difficult situation for us. But you never know in football and we will go for a win tomorrow," Colaco said.
Number one goalkeeper Subrata Paul and central defender Debabrata Roy were shown red card by a Qatari referee in the away leg, forcing India to make changes in the starting line-up.
Karanjit Singh, who did well after Paul's dismissal in the 24th minute at Al Ain, will start under the bar behind Gouramangi Singh, Raju Gaikwad, Samir Naik and Syed Rahim Nabi who will man the left back area, replacing Debabrata Roy.
Captain Climax Lawrence and Mehtab Hossain will start at the center as in the first match, and Steven Dias at the right flank.
Clifford Miranda will be the new man at left flank while Sunil Chhetri and Jeje Lalpekhlua will play upfront in Colaco's 4-4-2 formation.
Veteran goalkeeper Sandip Nandy and Harmanjot Khabra have been named as replacements for Paul and Debabrata but they will not start.
UAE, on the other hand, have come with almost the same team that played at Al Ain, except star striker Ismail Mattar. The Gulf side are high on confidence after their home win and the coach said they are at advantage.
"We respect the Indian team and the Indian players. In football you take your opposition lightly at your peril. But surely we are at the advantage," said UAE coach Srecko Katanec.
They have beaten India twice in eight months - the first one in November last year with UAE winning 5-0 in an inetrnational friendly before the Asian Cup.
India need a win on Thursday by a 3-0 margin, which will take the match to extra time, for keeping their hopes of progressing to the third round alive.
It seems difficult as of now but at least a win would be good for the country, which is trying to show that it can compete with the top sides in Asia.
India though can draw inspiration from their 2002 World Cup qualifiers performance in Bangalore where they had beaten UAE 1-0.
India Squad: Karanjit Singh, Gouramangi Singh, Raju Gaikwad, Samir Naik, Syed Rahim Nabi, Climax Lawrence, Mehtab Hossain, Steven Dias, Clifford Miranda, Sunil Chhetri, Jeje Lalpekhlua, Sandip Nandy, Harmanjhot Khabra, Laxmikant Kattimani, Lalrindika Ralte, Sushil Kumar, Mahesh Gawli, Robert Lalthlamuana, Jewel Raja, Lal Kamal Bhowmick, Baljit Sahni, Valeriano Rebello, Rowlinson Rodrigues.