India will look to finish their 2018 Russia World Cup Qualifiers campaign in style with a favourable result against Turkmenistan Tuesday at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi. Stephen Constantine's side got their only win of the qualifiers at home last year.
The Blue Tigers come into the game on the back of a 4-0 defeat to Iran at the Azadi Stadium in Tehran last Wednesday. This time, however, the home team have a good chance to record a positive result as they will have full support of the football-crazy fans in Kochi.
Besides that, India football talisman Sunil Chhetri, who missed the trip to Iran, could also play a part in the game as the 31-year-old participated in training sessions with the team ahead of the match. Constantine mentioned that he will take a last-minute decision on whether to field him.
"We will take a last-minute call on Sunil Chhetri. Although he has improved it will be a last minute decision to play him or not," Constantine said in an AIFF press release. "He is a great captain and a great leader. Obviously we will miss his services if he does not play,.
India won their only game of the competition against Guam last November in Bengaluru. Robin Singh was the goalscorer. This time however, Robin, along with midfielder Eugeneson Lyngdoh, are not a part of the squad owing to injuries.
Jeje Lalpekhlua was the skipper of the India side in their game against Iran and the Mizoram forward is expected to don the armband if Chhetri is not passed fit. "This match is very important for us as this is our home game. We need to win this match and I think we can try our best to win this match," the Mohun Bagan forward told Goal.
"Our team is young and I think it is good for Indian football in the future. I think every player will need to work hard every day in the practice. I think we can get our team to be stronger and we can perform better."
The last time the teams met in the competition, the home side narrowly edged past Constantine's team with a 2-1 scoreline in Ashgabat. Jeje was the scorer for India in that game.
Turkmenistan, ranked 113 in the FIFA rankings compared to India's 160th ranking, is, however, not willing to take the India challenge easily. "India are a very good and fast team with very good Players. We are expecting a tough clash against them," Turkmenistan football team head coach Amangylyc Kocumow said.
Where to watch live
India vs Turkmenistan is scheduled to kick off from 6 p.m. IST (12:30 p.m. GMT) March 29.
The match will be broadcast in India and the rest of the subcontinent on Sony Six and Sony Six HD. Live scores from the match can be followed on AIFF twitter handle.
Live streaming is also available on Sony LIV.