Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium, Doha
10th January, 2011, 18:45 IST
India will be playing their first match in Asian Cup in over twenty seven years when they take the field against Australia on Monday. The minnows of Asian football didn’t get an ideal draw to begin with as it saw them pitted against three out of the top six Asian teams. Bob Houghton’s men have got their work cut out as Aussies, who are ranked number twenty six in the world and number one in Asia are considered to be among one of the favourites to lift this cup.
A tough group should not deter the Indians as this is the biggest international tournament they have been a part of in more than quarter of a century and they should go all out against their opponents since they have nothing to lose here.
Team News and Strategy:
The biggest story coming out of the Indian camp is that their inspirational captain Bhaichung Bhutia has failed to recover from the injury he sustained to his right calf muscle and is most likely to sit out of India’s opening fixture against the Socceroos. This is bound to cause some distress to the Indian coach Houghton who received quite some flak from both media and fans for leaving behind Rafi and Robin Singh as the replacements strikers when the squad for Doha was announced in late December.
Strong back line is the biggest strength of the Aussies and skipper Bhutia’s vision will be dearly missed. What makes matter worse for Indians is that one of their reserve strikers, Sushil Kumar is unavailable for two matches due to the suspension he picked up against DPR Korea. What is even more shocking is that AIFF knew about this and still he was kept in the squad at the expense of Rafi and Robin.
India is most likely to field a 4-4-2 formation with Abhishek Yadav most likely to take the place of Bhutia with Chhetri up front. Steven Dias will be in charge of providing the crosses to his forwards, a job he has performed exceptionally in the past.
Subrata Pal, possibly the only world class player in the ranks of the Indians can surely expectt himself to be kept busy in front of the goal and his shot stopping skills will be tested to the fullest on Monday when he will have to take care of the headers of Everton striker Tim Cahill.
Indian Formation -4-4-2
Team News and Strategy:
The Asian number one outfit would be hoping for a winning start to their campaign against the 142nd ranked Indian team. Although, Australian skipper Lucas Neill doesn’t want his team to be complacent, he said that they won’t be taking India lightly. “We’re not taking them (India) for granted. We’re going to respect everybody and make sure that hard work gets us through.” said the Aussie captain.
Socceroos have a big physical advantage over the Indians and they would like to use that to its fullest in this opening encounter. Australia is a strong defensive unit and expect their manager Holger Osieck to carry forward the same defensive style to play which they have been playing in their recent international friendlies as a build up to the Asian Cup.
Offensive department is one area where the team from down under might face some problems as most of their strikers are nearing their expiry date, but the kangaroos will have no problem in sailing through against an Indian defensive unit which is relatively inexperienced at this level.
India 0 -5 Australia
India, scoring a goal against the mighty Australians looks more difficult than climbing the Everest and now with their most prolific striker ruled out of the match it seems even more further from reality. Australia possesses in their kitty a host of talented players who earn their bread and butter in EPL and are expected to run riot on Monday. The best the Men in Blue can do is walk after ninety minutes with their heads held high, but considering their dismal performances against the likes of Kuwait and UAE it doesn’t look like a possibility.
TheHardTackle’s Player to Watch Out For:
Tim Cahill (Australia)
With attack being their weakest link, in Cahill the Aussies possess a match winner who can turn the match on his head in no time. He is known for his finishing capabilities and has at his disposal, probably the most deadly headers in the world of football today.