Hyderabad, Aug 2 (UNI) A below par India will need to raise their game in the final league match against Turkmenistan to enter the semifinals of the AFC Challenge Cup here tomorrow.
India chalked out a lacklustre 1-0 win over minnows Afghanistan and drew 1-1 with defending champions Tajikistan to notch up four points in two games.
They are level on points with table toppers Turkmenistan who are ahead on goal difference. A win tomorrow will take them to the top of the table and will ensure that they avoid title contenders DPR Korea in the last four stage.
If India draws tomorrow and Tajikistan defeats Afghanistan by a two goal margin, then the hosts will be eliminated on goal difference.
But Bob Houghton's boys will face an uphill task tomorrow if their previous performances are anything to go by.
India have struggled to create chances and the strikers and the forwards seem to have left their scoring boots at home.
The only saving grace is the defence which has been rock solid so far. But the absence of the experienced Deepak Mondal, who picked up an injury in the last match, may hurt the Indians.
The good news is that Surkumar Singh has recovered from the injury he suffered before the SAFF Cup and the Manipuri should prove to be a handful down the right flank.
The Turkmen should go into tomorrow's match in a positive frame of mind. They were impressive in the 0-0 draw against Tajikistan in their opening match and gave the Afghans a few lessons in football during their 5-0 win yesterday.
They will depend on the trio of Vyaceslav Krendelv, Guvanch Ovekov and Dovletmurad Atayev to deliver the goods.
But the Central Asians will have to guard against Baichung Bhutia, who is the key man as far the Indians are concerned.
UNI XC AB RAR BST1711