Khujand, Tajikistan : Exposure-starved Indian football team will take on higher-ranked Tajikistan in an international friendly in Khujand on Wednesday, in what will be their first show of strength in more than six months.
India have played just one international match so far in 2013, a 2-4 loss against Palestine in February and Wim Koevermans men will be aiming to give a good account of themselves ahead of the SAFF Championships scheduled in Kathmandu from September 1-11.
In recent times, India and Tajikistan are even in terms of head-to-head results. India have beaten them in the 2008 AFC Challenge Cup final in New Delhi to qualify for the 2011 Asian Cup. In the group stage of the same tournament, the two sides played out a 1-1 draw.
Last year, India had lost to Tajikistan 0-2 in the 2012 AFC Challenge Cup final round in Nepal.
Tajikistan are ranked 114th in FIFA charts while India are presently 145th.
India have also not recorded an overseas International Friendly win since 2004 when they beat Kuwait 3-2 in Kuwait City.
An official of the home country's football federation chief had promised that the match at the Independence Stadium will be watched by more than 20,000 people.
India coach Wim Koevermans is confident that his men would be upto the task though it's the start of the season.
"I'm happy with the preparation. It was a bit stressful to find the right training ground but the local people have been very helpful and the ground where we practiced was the best we could locate in the neighbourhood," he said.
"It's good to see the boys back together but the match stays a big challenge for us - we are up against a very strong Tajikistan side," he said while refusing to reveal his team for tomorrow.
Captain Sunil Chhetri, who had scored a hat-trict against the same opponents in the 2008 AFC Challenge, knows the strength of the home side.
"They are very powerful," he said.
Asked about his side's plans, he quipped "Football is not an individual sport. We play a Team Game and we will."