New Delhi: India will take on Syria in the Nehru Cup football tournament final on Monday at the Ambedkar Stadium in New Delhi.
Defending champion India are led by star striker Bhaichung Bhutia and have entered their third consecutive final at the Nehru Cup.
Expectations are high since the defending champions beat Syria in the final of the 2007 edition of the tournament 1-0 to lift the trophy.
India are at full-strength, with the partnership of Bhutia and Sunil Chettri ready for action after being rested for the last league match. Coach Bob Houghton will surely be aiming for the second title on Monday night.
But the 2009 edition till now has been a mixed bag for the hosts who have won two and lost two of their league matches.
On the other hand Syria have won all their four league matches. They defeated India in their last league match 1-0 on Saturday.
In fact the Syrian defence has not allowed the opposing team to score even a single goal in their four league matches.
What may give hope to the Indian team is the fact that in the 2007 edition the hosts won the tournament defeating Syria in final despite losing the league match to them.
But aiming for a hat-trick of titles, the 156th-ranked Indian team will have to put of its best performance if they want to retain the title against the 95th-ranked opponent.
Both Bhutia and Chettri will be starting the game after being rested for the last league match against Syria.
India (from): Subrato Pal, Renedy Singh, Arindam Bhattacharja, Steven Dias, Subhasis Roy Choudhary, Clifford Miranda, NS Manju, Mehrajuddin Wadoo, Govind Singh, Anthony Pereira, N Mohanraj, Climax Lawrence, Anwar Ali, Rakesh Masih, Deepak Kumar Mondal, Subhas Singh, Mahesh Gawli, Sunil Chhetri, Surkumar Singh, Bhaichung Bhutia (C), Gouramangi Singh, Sushilkumar Chongtham Singh, Samir Subash Naik, Abhishek Yadav, Baldeep Singh (Jr), Syed Rahim Nabi, Jagpreet Singh and NP Pradeep. Coach: Bob Houghton.
Syria (from): Mosab Balhous, Moustafa Shakosh, Hamzeh Al Aitoni, Ali Dyab, Mohamed Al Zeno, Belal Abdul Daim, Abdul Razak Al Hussain, Abdul Fatah Alaga, Alaa Alshbli, Feras Ismail, Raja Rafe, Kawa Hisso, Moutaz Kaildni, Jwan Hisso, Ahmad Haj Mohamad, Bakri Tarrab. Coach: Fajr Ibrahim.