New Delhi: India will look for valuable match practice ahead of their AFC Asian Cup qualifiers when they face Cambodia in an international football friendly in Phnom Penh on Wednesday.
It will be India’s first international since a 4-1 home win over Puerto Rico in September last year.
The Stephen Constantine-coached side will get a chance to gauge preparations for the Asian Cup 2019 campaign, as the match will be their last outing before their qualifying run.
India open against Myanmar in Yangon on March 28. The match will be an opportunity for youngsters like Jerry Larlinzuala, Milan Singh, Nishu Kumar and Daniel Lalhlimpuia to impress Constantine.
The 24-man squad are in Phnom Penh after a camp in Mumbai. “You need international games to develop as a team and the AIFF has confirmed international friendlies until October which is very positive. The more you play the more team chemistry you develop and the more the players gel,” Constantine said.
Mohun Bagan defender Anas Edathodika could make his international debut as regular central defenders Arnab Mondal and Sandesh Jhingan’s have endured injury-plagued seasons.
India will welcome the return of Robin Singh, after a long injury layoff, with the lanky striker likely to play alongside Sunil Chhetri in a 4-2-3-1 formation.
India will draw confidence from their last meeting with Cambodia, which they won 6-0 in the 2007 Nehru Cup in New Delhi.
But Constantine said he was yet to decide the first team as several players were carrying slight injuries. “There are four-five players who are carrying slight niggles so I haven’t yet decided on the starting XI. Let me see what suits us best. The weather conditions in Phnom Penh are quite similar to that in Yangon and it will be a good test for us,” he added.
Goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu is likely to lead the side, his second consecutive match as captain, after guiding India to the win over Puerto Rico.
“There is a very healthy competition to get into the starting XI. It is a huge honour to get selected for India and the players understand that,” the Briton said.
“The philosophy in the team says there is no guarantee for anyone and you need to work hard to stay in the squad and work harder to get into the XI.”...