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NEW DELHI: The two friendly internationals against Thailand, home and away, have hardly provided any answers to the chief coach, Bob Houghton planning for the Asia Cup in Doha next January. The process is in motion and these friendlies are an integral part of the preparations towards that goal.
Only, an African opponent was not in Houghton's scheme of things as India takes on Namibia at the Ambedkar Stadium here on Wednesday. Now that Namibia is here, even though at depleted strength, India has little choice. Houghton, of course, would look forward to his boys showing some tenacity against opponents who are known for their robust approach. That India would be under some pressure is hardly surprising. Having won three tournaments at this venue, the home team would not like to suffer a drubbing. The team has lacked conviction of late and Houghton would not like to lose time in whipping them into the cohesive unit.
The slushy pitch was not a hindrance in the last contest but a forceful Namibia could prove to be a nightmare.
The Indians would need to protect their goal and avoid tough physical tackles that could lead to injury. Steven Dias is already down with one from the match against Thailand. Defenders Anwar and Surkumar Singh too are doubtful. Mehrajuddin Wadoo and Abhishek Yadav are likely to figure in the starting line-up. Namibia, ranked 115, has noted Belgian Tom Saintfiet as coach. “Since playing our last official international in March, we haven't played a single match,” said Saintfiet.
Houghton, who wanted India to play at least 10 friendlies a month from September onwards, observed, “We don't know their game, they don't know ours. They will play their way and we will play ours.”
The kickoff will be at 6.30 p.m.
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