India face Myanmar in tricky Olympics football qualifier

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Pune, Feb 22 (PTI) India''s under-23 football teamsuffered a blow with injury to first choice goalkeeper ArindamBhattacharya, but would still look to repeat its winningperformance of four years ago, when they take on Myanmar in atricky home-leg tie of the 2012 Olympic qualifiers heretomorrow.

India had beaten Myanmar 4-1 in Kolkata in February 2007before drawing 1-1 in Yangon to advance to the second round of2008 Beijing Olympics qualifiers, and Desmond Bulpin''s boyshave been drawn again against the same opponents.

India are fielding a young team, comprising mostly ofplayers from new I-League side Indian Arrows, which wasfloated by the AIFF. They have been training here for the pastseven days.

Besides Churchill Brothers goalkeeper Arindam, EastBengal''s Nirmal Chhetri and Robin Singh, Mohun Bagan''s NMohanraj and CS Sabeeth of Viva Kerala are the players who arenot part of Indian Arrows.

Bulpin admitted tomorrow''s match would be a difficult onebut felt his boys would enjoy the home advantage at theBalewadi Sports Complex.

"We have been preparing for a week. Most of the playersare from Indian Arrows. I am expecting a difficult gametomorrow. However, we have home advantage and we are hoping towin the game," Bulpin said at the pre-match press conference.

"We have some injury worries. Arindam Bhattacharya won''tbe playing due to shoulder injury," said the former TottenhamHotspur youth team manager.

Myanmar are being coached by the well-travelled MilanZivadinovic, the Serbian tactician who is no stranger to Asianfootball having coached the national teams of Iraq and Yemenand club sides in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Iran and China.

"We have really good motivation against India. The teamis ready to give its best shot in tomorrow''s game. We had goodpreparation for the match. I am really satisfied with the waythe team is shaping up now," he said.

"I believe we have a chance to win against India. We haveno injury concern and all the players are available for thematch," said Zivadinovic.

The return-leg match will be played in Yangon on March 9.

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