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Uphill task awaits the Indians

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September 07, 2004 15:09 IST

A series of flop shows, injury blues and the sheer might of the opponents make it an arduous climb for India as they take on star-studded Japan in an Asian Zone Group C World Cup soccer qualifier in Kolkata on Wednesday.

Having been decimated 0-7 by the Asian champions in the away match at Saitama, India require enormous amount of self-belief, loads of confidence and need to play their hearts out even to put up a decent performance before an expected crowd of around one lakh at the floodlit Salt Lake stadium.

While even the most ardent of Indian fans realise that a victory against the visitors -- coached by Brazilian soccer legend Zico -- would be a near miracle, a narrow margin of defeat and non-repetition of the humiliation in Japan is what national coach Stephen Constantine and his boys seem to be angling for.

Debjit Ghosh, named as skipper in the absence of an injured Baichung Bhutia, said as much when he remarked that he would be satisfied with a 0-3 scoreline.

Some home supporters may consider such a pre-match mindset as "utterly negative", but there is no denying the fact that the clash presents two sides, who are utterly mismatched in class and form.

In FIFA rankings, Japan occupy the 18th slot, while India are way behind at 138th; the visitors have won all their three matches in the qualifiers so far, while India's only success came against Singapore, whom they defeated 1-0.

Sirshendu Panth in Kolkata
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