constantine - india nepal
The Indian team train at the Balewadi Stadium ahead of their international friendly against NepalAIFF Media

Nepal are expected to be the underdogs as they go into the international football friendly against India on Monday at the Shree Chhatrapati Balewadi Sports Complex in Pune, as the Gorkha side do not boast of a very favourable head-to-head record against the Indians.  

The two nations from the South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) have faced each other in 19 matches so far, of which India have won 12, while Nepal have managed just four wins.

Nepal, ranked 184 in the world currently, against India's 156th FIFA ranking, come into the game musturing a lot of strength and courage, after a massive earthquake devastated the Himalayan kingdom in April this year. The people of Nepal are still coming to terms with the tragedy.

The Nepalese side would be keen to win as it will be a huge morale booster to the people of their country.

It has to be noted that India defeated Nepal earlier this year in the first leg of the Russia 2018 World Cup qualifiers in March.

The return leg turned out to be a goalless draw. Despite that, Nepal football team skipper Sagar Thapa feels that his team can maange a win against Stephen Constantine's side today.

"It is not impossible to defeat India. We have had results in the past where we have defeated them, all we need is a good strategy," Thapa said in the pre-match presser.

British coach Constantine feels that Nepal are a difficult side and their fighting spirit deserves plaudits. "Nepal have always been a difficult Team for India. They have shown in the last two games that they can fight. That's the character of the Country. It's a Country of fighters," Constantine said.

"They will give us a difficult game that's what we want. We want to be stretched to the wire. The general perception stays that they are not that strong as people sometimes love to go by the FIFA Rankings. But no one knows more about their spirit than me."

"I am very happy that they have shown their fighting spirit once again and coming back to play International Football," said Constantine on Nepal's return to the game after the tragedy.

The match is just a warm-up game for India ahead of the mega clash against Asian giants Iran in the Russia 2018 Group D qualifier game to be held on 8 September.

Team News:

India - Custodian Subrata Paul stays the skipper of the side. Sunil Chhetri and Robin Singh are expected to retain their place in the forward line, while Sandesh Jhingan and Arnab Mondal will man the barricades in the heart of the defence. Midfielders Brandon Fernandes, Jackichand Singh, and Eugeneson Lyngdoh could also feature in the game.

Nepal - Patrick Aussems will look to deploy Sandip Rai with Sagar Thapa in the heart of the defence, while the trio of Rohit Chand, Bikram Lama and Jagajeet Shrestha will dominate the midfield. And all eyes will be on 17-year-old promising forward Bimal Magar. 

Where to follow the match

The match kicks off at 7 pm IST and will have no telecast or live stream. Live Updates can be followed here.

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