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India vs. Nepal a dress rehearsal for crucial Asian Cup qualifier

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Sunil Chhetri embraces leadership role with India (6:53)

Sunil Chhetri talks about his relationship with India coach Stephen Constantine. (6:53)

India take on Nepal in an international friendly at the Mumbai Football Arena in Andheri on Tuesday, with both teams looking for some vital match practice ahead of crucial 2019 AFC Asian Cup qualifying matches in a week's time.

Here's everything that you need to know about the game, and what to watch for when the south Asian neighbours come face-to-face.

Match facts

When: Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Where: Mumbai Football Arena, Mumbai

Start time: 7 PM IST

What are India looking to get out of this tie?

Momentum and game time ahead of the crucial AFC Asian Cup qualifying game against Kyrgyzstan on June 13. India beat Myanmar in their first group game, so a result against Kyrgyzstan, who are tied with India on top of the group, will go a long way in achieving a top two finish.

The scoreline from this game would not be as relevant but what must stick out is the discipline in the team. A good performance from all the units would work as the best morale-booster for a team that has effectively not played together for the last 11 weeks.

Nepal also have an AFC Asian Cup qualifier on the same day against Yemen. The match was agreed to play on short notice after Lebanon backed off to play a friendly against India due to visa issues.

Team form

India have maintained their 20-year-high FIFA ranking of 100, and it is a fair reflection of the team's consistency over the last year and a half. Sunil Chhetri pointed to a 1-0 win over Guam at home during the 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign as a turning point for coach Stephen Constantine's team, and they have backed up with results in most of their matches since, winning 11 out of their 13 games, including one unofficial friendly away to Bhutan.

Goals have also not been a problem for India, with Jeje Lalpekhlua and Chhetri himself leading the way with critical goals in matches. Gurpreet Singh Sandhu has cemented his place as goalkeeper and has also been a steady influence in India's rise up the world rankings.

India's last international game was away to Myanmar on March 28 where Chhetri scored a late winner giving them a 1-0 win.

Who are likely to feature for India?

Constantine hasn't named a squad for either match yet, which leaves the option open to him to try out some of the previously uncapped players if he wishes to. Bengaluru FC winger Udanta Singh is injured and will not feature. Chhetri proved his match fitness by playing 86 minutes of and scoring the winner in Bengaluru FC's AFC Cup match against Maziya on May 31.

Expect India to line up with a familiar 4-3-3, and Borges could be found anchoring the midfield, behind Eugeneson Lyngdoh and Jackichand Singh.

Attacking options for the coach are aplenty with Jeje, Chhetri and Robin Singh. Robin Singh, who had one of his better seasons in domestic football with East Bengal, could get a look-in, especially if Chhetri is given some rest ahead of next week's match against Kyrgyzstan.

Nepal's threat

Nepal, ranked 69 places below India, are one of the younger teams in world football. This will be their first outing against India since Japanese coach Koji Gyotoku took over.

They typically play a 4-3-3 formation. The danger men are three youngsters. Bimal Gharti Magar - the 19-year-old who has had an extensive youth career in Europe - Anjan Bista and Nawayug Shrestha.

Against India Myanmar pressed hard from the word go, and caused a number of problems for India's relatively new centre-back combination of Anas Edathodika and Sandesh Jhingan. Nepal tend to play a similar game, based on speed down the wings and with a bulk of their midfielders performing a box-to-box role through the game. India will have to find a way to control the pace of the game and also show a tidier game at the back.

Expect a fast-paced encounter with plenty of speed and skill on display. India would be expected to hold the edge, and could especially run away with the contest should they find an early goal.

Last meeting

Their last encounter came at the SAFF Championship in Trivandrum in December 2015, where goals from Rowllin Borges, Chhetri and a brace from Lallianzuala Chhangte took India to a 4-1 win.

Form guide (last five matches, most recent first)

Nepal: LDDWL

India: WWWWW