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SAFF U-19 Championship: India To Take On Hosts Nepal In Semifinals

India qualified for the semifinals as Group B winners with wins over Bangladesh and Bhutan.

Indian Men's Football Team in SAFF U-19 Championships in Kathmandu
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India will start as overwhelming favourites against hosts Nepal in the semifinal of the SAFF Under-19 Championship in Kathmandu on Wednesday. (More Football News)

India qualified for the semifinals as Group B winners with wins over Bangladesh and Bhutan.

Nepal was second in Group A behind Pakistan, who will lock horns with Bhutan in the other semifinal match at Dashrath Stadium, Kathmandu.

Though India will start as favourites against Nepal, they will have to get their act together, considering that Bhutan had stretched them in their last league match on Monday.

After blanking Bangladesh 3-0 in their opener, India struggled a bit against a gritty Bhutan while etching a 2-1 win.

Shuvendu Panda, head coach of the Blue Colts, was not entirely pleased with that effort against Bhutan but said the team would have to maintain the mindset to win at any cost.

“Honestly, I am not happy as a coach because the way we had planned to play against Bhutan was not executed.

"But we are here with a mindset to win all matches and become champions at any cost,” said Panda.

However, Panda said the team was well prepared for the semifinal match against Nepal.  

“It is always challenging for players to play with just one day of rest between games.

“However, we are quite prepared for the match. During our preparation, we had considered all these factors also very meticulously,” Panda added.

Nepal, who booked a last-four berth with a 4-1 victory over Maldives, will have a home advantage in the match against India.

However, Panda said they are well prepared to tackle such situations, but warned his side not to take Nepal lightly.

“After losing the first match, they came back with a good victory. As hosts, they have great fan support.

“It is going to be a new situation for the (Indian) players, but they are competent enough to deal with such external factors,” he added.

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