India need a draw from Thursday's Group A match at the Dasarath Stadium to qualify for semifinals but with the lacklustre performance they have dished out so far, it would not be easy for Wim Koevermans men to achieve that against a team which will have overwhelming crowd support. 
     
Having opened their campaign by scrapping past Pakistan who gifted a goal and then almost being beaten by Bangladesh before managing a last-gasp equaliser on Tuesday, India never looked like a team which would defend its title.
     
The group is wide open and all the four teams have a chance to make it to the semifinals after playing two matches each. Nepal and India are on four points with a goal difference of plus two and plus one respectively while Pakistan and Bangladesh are on one point with minus one and minus two goal difference respectively.
     
Even if India lose on Thursday, they will still qualify for the semifinals if Pakistan beat Bangladesh in the other group match which will be played simultaneously.
     
This is so because India had beaten Pakistan and head-to-head result will be considered first in case there is a tie between two teams. If India lose to Nepal without scoring a goal and Bangladesh beat Pakistan by a margin of two goals, then Koevermans' men will be out of the tournament.
     
India would, however, begin as overwhelming favourites if past history is to go by as they have won nine out of 11 matches the two sides have played till now with Nepal yet to post a victory. Two matches were drawn.
     
India had also emerged victorious in the last two meetings between the two teams in the SAFF Championships. They had beaten Nepal 2-1 in Karachi in 2005 and 4-0 in the 2008 edition in Male. But the last meeting between the two sides resulted in a 0-0 stalemate in the 2012 Nehru Cup in New Delhi.

(Agencies)

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