It's time once again for the Indian men's football team to target another title. The senior team got off to a bright start in 2016, as they clinched the SAFF Cup, and now, it is the India U-23 side's turn to achieve something big for themselves too.
The Indian colts, coached by Lee Johnson, face neighbours Nepal in the South Asian Games 2016 men's football final on Monday at the Indira Gandhi Stadium in Guwahati.
It was not a very good start for the Indian side to the tournament, as they lost their opening fixture against Sri Lanka, but then they went on to win their next two games against Maldives and Bangladesh to seal a mouthwatering finale with Nepal.
Udanta Singh, Mawihmingthanga and Jayesh Rane were the scorers for Johnson's side, as they thrashed Bangladesh 3-0 in the semifinal of the tournament. Against Nepal, the 20-man India squad, which feature some players who have never even played in the I-League, will have to maintain their consistency as they gear up to clinch the gold medal.
"Nepal are a very fit side. They had an inspirational victory against Maldives and will come hard at us," Johnson was quoted by the AIFF digital portal. "The win will keep them motivated. Such sides are always very dangerous.
"We had a look at them and have some very good individual players in their ranks. They will be competitive and we respect them. I am aware about the fighting instincts of the Nepali people."
For Nepal, Nawayug Shrestha has been the pivotal man. The 26-year-old attacking midfielder scored a hat-trick as Nepal beat Maldives with a 4-3 margin to enter the final of the tournament.
"Our players have the potentials to do it [win the final]. This point has been proven several times in the last few months," Nepal U-23 football team coach Raju Kaji Shakya was quoted by The Himalayan Times.
"The win yesterday [against Maldives] was a result of hard-work and team effort. We achieved the victory despite being a man down. The victory has certainly given us the belief that hard-work yields best results."
Meanwhile, the Indian women's team also take on Nepal in the South Asian Games 2016 women's football final on Monday. Catch the match report from the game here.
Where to watch live
South Asian Games 2016 Men's Football final: India vs Nepal is scheduled to kick off at 7 p.m. IST on Monday, February 15.
Viewers in India can catch the match on DD Sports. Radio commentary of the event will be available on the AIR FM Gold. Online streaming will be available on the South Asian Games video portal.
The live scores of the game will be available on the official AIFF twitter handle.
Live streaming options for other countries:
In Pakistan: Geo Super.
Sri Lanka: MTV Sports.
Bangladesh: Gazi TV.
Afghanistan: Lemar TV.
Nepal: Kantipur Gold.