New Delhi: After a disappointing loss against USA, a spirited India gave the fans plenty to cheer about in the second game against Colombia, including the first ever FIFA World Cup goal.
Now, the Blue Colts will look to end the tournament in style as they take on Ghana in the final group fixture at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on Thursday.
Mathematically, India can still qualify for the round of 16. They need to beat Ghana by a big margin, and hope that US does the same against Colombia. US are the only team which has sealed their spot in the round of 16 and currently top the group with 6 points.
Coach Luis Norton de Matos termed Ghana as a physical and mental challenge but at the same time said his boys will go out to win.
“Ghana will be a physical as well as a mental challenge for us. They (Ghana) are a strong physical team who are quick on the ball. We would have to be on our toes for the entirety of the match, if we are to secure a win," de Matos said.
"However, the boys are ready for the challenge that will be thrown in front of them. We will give it our all and aim to create history once again," he added.
The likes of Aminu Mohammed and Sadiq Ibrahim in the flanks, and captain Eric Ayiah up front are likely to provide the stiffest challenge to the Indian backline. Ghana looked like the better team than even US in phases when the two teams clashed. However, the lack of finishing is something that will worry their head coach Samuel Fabin.
“We need to work on our finishing, we have a couple of days before we face India and we will use that time to work on it,” Fabin had said after the game against US.
He also warned his boys not to take the Indian side lightly. Boris ended the previous game with a bandage on his forehead, meanwhile Anwar Ali was seen limping out with the squad. India will need both these players to be on their A game against Ghana.
India’s star player Komal Thatal started on the bench in the last game, and it will be interesting to see if de Matos goes in with the same tactics yet again.
With the Ghanian defence expected to be physical, Rahim Ali might well retain his place in the squad. Goalkeeper Dheeraj is expected to have yet another busy night in goal, and he called on the fans to cheer for the team in even bigger numbers for the final group game.
“Against Ghana we will need a lot of support. We will give it our very best on the pitch. I expect all to be cheering for us like they have done for us. We won't disappoint them. Come and back the blue," he said.