Kathmandu: Having begun their title defence with a lacklustre performance, India would look to make amends and stamp their authority when they square off against Bangladesh in their second group league match in the SAFF Football Championships on Tuesday. It was a disappointing show by the Indians in their campaign opener as they allowed Pakistan to dominate for major part of the match and needed an own goal from the rival skipper to come out unscathed.
Coach Wim Koevermas had minced no words in the post-match press conference, saying that he was not happy with the performance of his men and his side were lucky to have won the game. India (ranked 145th) though would start as favourites in tomorrow's Group A match against Bangladesh who are 13 notches below at 158th.
In the 22 meetings between the two teams, India have won 11 times while Bangaldesh have won thrice and eight games were drawn. The last time the two sides met in the 2007 Nehru Cup at Ambedkar Stadium in New Delhi, India won 1-0 with erstwhile captain Bhaichung Bhutia scoring the lone goal.
India will need to make amends and improve by leaps and bounds if they are serious aboput their title defence and coach Koevermans knows it. A win tomorrow will virtually put India through to the semi-finals.
For Koevermans, he believes that his boys will treat each and every game as a final.
"It's our second 'final' as we are here to play five 'finals ' and defend our title. Bangladesh saw us play and will plan for us. They will come hard at us," Koevermans said.
Asked about his side's strategy for tomorrow's match at the match-eve press conference, Koevermans said, "Bangladesh are a good technical side and have their final chance against us. But we need to focus on ourselves and there's always a scope of improvement."
"Nepal and Bangladesh have had an extra day of rest as they played on 31st. When every other team is playing every alternate day, I think it's not fair," he said.
Captain Sunil Chhetri, who is just three goals shy of becoming India's highest-ever goal scorer, missed three chances against Pakistan will all his strikes missing the target.
"It's destiny. That's how a striker's life goes. On a certain day, it just does not go in. Next match (he will score," Chhetri's strike partner Jeje Lalpekhlua came to his skipper's defence.
For Bangladesh, it's a do-or-die match tomorrow as a defeat would put them out of reckoning for a place in the last four, having lost to hosts Nepal 0-2 in their campaign opener.
Incidentally, Bangladesh is being managed by Koevermans' fellow countryman and former student Lodewijk de Kruif.
In fact the two Dutchmen were seen exchanging pleasantries at the breakfast table at the team hotel today.
"It's a do-or-die match for us. We will play to our full strength," said Bangladesh's Dutch coach Lodewijk de Kruif, who was once Koevermans' student in an A-Licence course.
"India were a bit lucky against Pakistan. We know their style of play as much they know ours," he added.
It will also have to be seen whether Tuesday's match at Armed Forces Ground is affected by bad weather conditions as it rained in Kathmandu yesterday just after India ended their match against Pakistan.
Overcast conditions also prevailed today also and India's training session was affected by light drizzle.