Al Shaab Stadium, Sharjah
11th Nov, 2010 – 8:15 PM IST
In the first of the three international friendlies to be played during India’s Asia Cup 2011 preparatory camp in Dubai, the Men in Blue will face the Iraq national team tonight at Al Shaab Stadium, Sharjah.
As per the latest FIFA world rankings, Iraq is placed 50 places above India at the 94th position. They are, without any doubt, the toughest team India have faced in last one year or so. The defending Asian Champions, under the guidance of German coach Wolfgang Sidka, have played scintillating football over the course of last one year. Their recent form is impressive with four wins and a draw in their last five international encounters. On the contrary, India could manage to win only two of their last five matches.
It will not be a full strength Iraqi side that will take on India in this match, as few of their key players will miss out due to club commitments, injuries and VISA related issues. It has been learnt that three of their key players, Abdul-Amir Haidar, Ossama Shaker and Muayad Khalid, did not travel with the squad. In the absence of the star players, it will be an exciting opportunity for the less experienced players to impress the coach.
Amjad Radhi, the Iraqi league topscorer with 31 goals for his club Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya last season, is a player the Indian defence should be cautious about. Ahmed Ayad, a natural left winger, is another bright prospect for Iraq. Samal Saeed, the most expensive Iraqi player, will have the responsibility to marshal the defensive resources. Also there are the likes of very talented Nashat Akram, Salih Sadir and Hawar Mulla Mohammed. Iraq is travelling with a 20 member squad for this match against India.
All is not well even in the Indian camp, especially on the attacking front. Baichung is yet to regain complete match fitness and will not be available for this match. India suffered another big blow yesterday when star striker Sunil Chhetri suffered an ankle injury during training and is doubtful for the match. Mohammed Rafi is also nursing an injury. In the absence of the first choice striking combo, Bob Houghton will rely on Abhishek Yadav and Shushil Kumar Singh to give India an early lead.
Reliable central midfielder N.P.Pradeep and Samir Naik, who suffered an injury last month, are recovering quickly and both of them have started physical training. Climax Lawrence, the stand-in captain, will be partnered by either Rakesh Masih or Renedy Singh in the centre of the park. Anthony Perreira and Steven Dias will start on the wings.
Anwar and Gourmangi will be guarding the central defense for the Bhangra Boys while Surkumar Singh is expected to start on the right back position. If Mahesh Gawli is not able to clear the fitness test prior to the start of the match, N.S. Manju will shoulder the responsibility of marshaling the left side of Indian defense. Flying Eagle Subrata Pal will guard the Indian goal post.
Probable Starting Line-up (India): Subrata, Surkumar, Gaurmangi, Anwar, Manju, Anthony, Rakesh, Climax, Steven, Abhishek, Sushil
TheHardTackle’s PLAYER TO WATCH OUT FOR
Subrata Pal (India): It can surely be predicted to be a busy day for the Indian number 1 against Iraq. Subrata had brilliant outings for India in the recent past. The Pune FC goalkeeper has been instrumental in almost all major victories for India in the last couple of years. One can expect another solid performance from the Flying Eagle.
India 0-2 Iraq
Team India are yet to win a match against their West Asian rivals. In the 7 matches played against Iraq so far, India could only manage 2 draws – losing the remaining matches. It is highly unlikely that India will re-write the history book by defeating Iraq in this match. We expect Iraq to come out with a comfortable 2-0 victory.