IC11 Preview - India's biggest challenge getting to the tournament
Tuesday, August 09 2011 @ 11:02 pm ACST
Contributed by: Brett Northey
The Indian Tigers return to Australia this month for their second International Cup campaign.
The team's participation in 2008 was supposed to be the launching-pad for football in India. This wasn't to eventuate, with the administration giving the game away upon their return to India. Fortunately two of the players, Sudip Chakraborty and Darren Ross stepped up and took charge of the organisation, assisted at the Australian-end by our own Ash Nugent. The team's participation in 2011 is the product of these two players' passion for football.
The Country and Australian Football
India is the world's second most populous country. It is one of the world's most diverse nations, comprising numerous ethnic groups and languages spoken. The first serious attempt to establish football in India was Brian Dixon's visit to the country in 2006. AFL India is a by-product of this visit, although the journey has been far from hassle-free.
Strengths and Weaknesses
The team's strengths are the few Australia-based players with football experience and the fact that by drawing the team predominantly from only two locations, most of the players have had an opportunity to get to know each other, see each other train and understand each others' skills.
The lack of International matches that the European, American and Asian countries enjoy means that India's form can only be based on their 2008 performance. This may cause their opponents to underestimate them, which may also work in their favour.
Whilst the Tigers will bring a taller and more experienced squad to this International Cup, their major weaknesses are the inexperience of the majority of their squad, their small talent pool to draw from and their small squad size.
Players to Watch
From Australia: Srirangan Giritharan for his tackling, Prakash Kailasanathan for his marking, Vice Captain Vishnu Rishie who is the most experienced member of the squad and GWS-academy listed player Dhruv Kaushik assuming he overcomes his injury in time.
From India: Srinath Lakshmaiya who played Australian Football in Wales and Mervyn Nathaniel.
India will almost certainly lose their two grading matches and play out the tournament in Divison 2. However as a developing footy nation this is precisely the role the Division system plays, and they should get a taste of the top end before some competitive matches against their peers.
Even against some of the newer nations India will be up against it. Unless they can cause an upset, last place beckons, but a starting point and a relief they have not been lost to international footy. Any win will be a much celebrated milestone.