India look to continue winning momentum against New Zealand in Intercontinental CupJune 7, 2018
Having scored eight unanswered goals in their first two matches of the Intercontinental Cup, against considerably depleted opposition it must be noted, India will be keen to maintain their unbeaten run when they play New Zealand in their final group game on Thursday.
“Obviously we will be playing for a win against New Zealand, but it will not be easy. It will be remarkable if we win all three of our matches going into the finals of the Cup and keep the winning momentum alive,” Indian winger Halicharan Narzary admitted on Wednesday.
Captain Sunil Chhetri will also be keen on extending his goal tally, with five goals against Chinese Taipei and Kenya already in the bag, the latter also having brought up his 100th game for the national team.
The encounter against the All Whites at the Mumbai Football Arena will also bring forth another special occasion, this time for forward Jeje Lalpekhlua. The Mizo striker, who scored India’s second goal in their 3-0 win over Kenya, is set to pick up his 50th cap if he makes an appearance.
Considering that the four-nation tournament is a preparatory event for the team’s AFC Asian Cup challenge early next year, and India having already sealed their spot in the final on Sunday, coach Stephen Constantine may opt to tweak the starting eleven.
India’s backline, made up of the central partnership of Anas Edathodika and Sandesh Jhingan with Pritam Kotal and new comer Subhasish Bose assuming the full-back positions, are yet to concede a goal in the tournament.
“We have started off in an exquisite manner but now the challenge is to get the job done in the same fashion. The momentum needs to be sustained and we have to overcome New Zealand next, and then the final,” said Bose.
New Zealand, who are missing the Premier League duo of Chris Wood and Winston Reid, were handed a lifeline after their 1-0 win over Chinese Taipei and will be keen on causing an upset against the hosts.
Youngster Sarpreet Singh has been the Kiwi’s best player so far. The 19-year-old, who operates on the left-wing has already scored against Kenya with a brilliant curling finish and will be keen on making an impression considering his Indian lineage.