Team India after their two 0-2 losses against Tajikistan and the Philippines are out of the 2012 AFC Challenge Cup. Their final Group B game against group winners North Korea is a match of honour, in which India can show what they actually are capable of playing.
Team India has played below par in this tournament so far and the stats against North Korea are not encouraging either. In the 13 matches played between the two sides, India has never won a match against North Korea while the Koreans have 11 wins to their name. So the favourite tag will surely lie with the North Koreans.
India coach Savio Medeira speaking on the sidelines of the training session said, "Whatever had happened is past. We need to look forward. All of us need to support each other and see that whatever mistakes we have committed in the past shouldn't be repeated."
"DPR Korea are the toughest opponent. As they have already qualified for the semis, they would not be under any pressure. We still have many things to prove," he added. "All of us need to do a lot of introspection and then come to a conclusion. We have to take a step forward for the betterment of football in India."
Big words by Savio Medeira, but his boys should now at least try and deliver in the teams final match of the tournament. So far the performances have been below par and unacceptable for the legion of fans of the Bhangra Boys.
2010 AIFF Footballer-of-the-Year, centre-back Gouramangi Singh accepted the lack of being a cohesive effort in the first two matches. "We didn't play as a team. The coordination and understanding wasn't there. We are a young side, we need to develop as a team – that too, fast," Mangi maintained.
Savio is set to make a number of changes in the starting line-up with central midfielder Adil Khan and striker Joaquim Abranches forced to sit out due to niggles.
For North Korea, who are already through to the semifinals, the match against India is a chance to fine tune their team for the bigger challenges ahead. North Korea was clearly the better side against the Philippines and Tajikistan, but their finishing has been awful otherwise victories with bigger margins would have been possible. Hopefully they do not find their magic touch against India.
The kick-off is slated for 15.00 local time (14.45 IST) at the Dashrath Stadium with no national television broadcast in India.