9/4/2018 5:57:03 PM (GMT+3)

Constantine seeks experiment as India meet Lanka in SAFF Cup

Constantine seeks experiment as India meet Lanka in SAFF Cup

NEW DELHI: Defending champions India begin their campaign against Sri Lanka in SAFF Suzuki Cup at the Bangabandhu National Stadium in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on Wednesday.

“Facing some of the sides would be a real test for us in this tournament,” said national coach Stephen Constantine.

India, who are ranked 96 on FIFA rankings, will field their U23 side with the exception of striker Sumeet Passi.

“Apart from Sunil (Chhetri), Jeje (Lalpekhlua) and Balwant (Singh), there are not many out-and-out strikers in India. Farukh, Manvir and Passi also have minimal international experiences. But Passi will have as much chance as anyone else to get into the Asian Cup squad,” added Constantine.

India had won 15 times against the island nation out of the 22 matches they have played, with Lanka winning against India in 1995 edition.

“There are no favourites. The better team will win. It’s very important to start the campaign on a positive note and we’re prepared for it,” said Lanka coach Nizam Packeer Ali. “It’s better to face India early rather facing them at the knock-out stage.”

Sri Lanka held India to a 1-1 draw against India in their final round-robin fixture at the 2003 SAFF Championship.

“I’m trying to get along with a new set of players. We are following the Sri Lanka Football Vision 2030 plan and I'm happy with the progress so far,” added Ali. (Pic credit: AIFF)