MUMBAI, JUNE 09
In India’s 3-0 victory over Kenya on Monday, there were two moments early in the second half which could’ve easily spoiled the party atmosphere that surrounded skipper Sunil Chhetri’s 100th-game.
First, Kenyan striker Ovella Ochieng made a mockery of the offside trap, and with just the keeper to beat, sent his shot wide of the post. Less than a minute later, Pistone Mutamba, too, had a similar chance, and like Ochieng, he too struck it wide.
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Chettri’s double and Jeje’s goal then overshadowed those two nervy moments, and in the brouhaha of Mumbaikars filling the stadium to capacity, it was completely forgotten.
As India take on Kenya in the Intercontinental Cup final on Sunday at the Mumbai Football Arena, the hosts will have to be mindful of the speed and physicality that the Kenyans possess in attack. The Indian defence can’t afford to always wait to make last-second tackles.
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The visitors are also very dangerous from set pieces. In their 4-0 win over Chinese Taipei on Friday, they scored three of their goals from set-pieces, something that India’s central defenders Sandesh Jhingan and Anas Edathodika will need to be prepared for.
Not that the hosts will go in as underdogs though. Backed by the packed stadium and led by some masterful striking by Chhetri – he’s scored four goals in three games – it’ll be a surprise if India finish second best.
MUMBAI, JUNE 09