Choa Chu Kang Stadium, Singapore
October 16, 2012
In What is likely to be the first real test for Wim Koevermans and his boys, Indian National Football Team takes on its Singapore counterparts in a FIFA friendly. The Indian team, despite an impressive home record where they have won SAFF Cup and the Nehru Cup in last 1 year, have struggled to win abroad. Singapore have named a full strength team for the event ahead of the AFF Suzuki Cup and are looking to set their team combinations right before the event.
TheHardTackle takes a look at the strengths and weaknesses of both the teams and analyses the tactical formations that both the teams could employ in a fixture which is of extreme importance to both the sides.
Team News And Tactical Brief
Serbian Coach Radojko Avramovic has named a full strength squad ahead of the friendly as the Lions prepare for the AFF Suzuki Cup. Singapore last played against Philippines and lost 2-0 when they were expected to easily get past their opponents and then drew 1-1 against Myanmar.
22 year old goalkeeper Izwan Mahbud will start in goal for the Singapore team while Daniel Bennett, a British Citizen who switched nationality to Singapore will lead the defense. The 34 year old is a veteran of 110 caps and will be accompanied by Baihakki Khaizan in the center of defense . Shaiful Esah will start on the left side of the defense and is the free-kick specialist of the team and will look to impress in this game.
Shi Jiayi of Home United will play as the attacking midfielder and is likely to be accompanied by Fahrudin Mustafić who comes from Yugoslavia. Fahrudin Mustafić plays as the defensive midfielder in the team. 21 year old promising youngster Hariss Harun and Isa Halim are expected to start in a four man midfield. Captain Shahril Ishak would play upfront with the 42 year old Aleksandar Duric. Over 6 feet tall, Aleksandar Duric has scored 25 goals for Singapore and he poses a lot of threat to the Indian defence with his height. Shahril Ishak plays as the linkman between the midfielders and Duric who is the target man.
The 24 member squad stays as follows
Goalkeepers: Izwan Mahbud, Hyrulnizam Juma’at (both LIONSXII), Joey Sim (Balestier Khalsa)
Defenders: Baihakki Khaizan, Shaiful Esah, Irwan Shah, Safuwan Baharudin, Sevki Sha’ban (all LIONSXII), Daniel Bennett (SAFFC), Jufri Taha (Tampines Rovers)
Midfielders: Fazli Ayob (Courts Young Lions), Shi Jiayi (Home United), Hariss Harun, Isa Halim, Yasir Hanapi, Safirul Sulaiman, Shahdan Sulaiman (all LIONSXII), Mustafic Fahrudin (Tampines Rovers)
Forwards: Qiu Li (Home United), Agu Casmir, Khairul Amri, Shahril Ishak (all LIONSXII), Fazrul Nawaz (SAFFC), Aleksandar Duric (Tampines Rovers)
Possible Starting XI (4-4-2): Izwan Mahbud; Shaiful Esah, Daniel Bennett, Baihakki Khaizan, Irwan Shah; Hariss Harun, Shi Jiayi, Mustafic Fahrudin, Isa Halim; Shahril Ishak, Aleksandar Duric
Wim Koevermans will look to set India’s not so good away record right when he decides his starting eleven. The last time India won a match abroad was agianst Qatar when India beat them 2-1 in July 2011 but the match was a friendly, not recoginzed by FIFA. It will be interesting to see if Koevermans sticks to the same set of players who did well in the Nehru Cup or decide to give chance to fresh faces. Koevermans sounded excited at the prospect of facing Singapore and said
We need to assess ourselves. We need more such matches.The Nehru Cup triumph was encouraging indeed. But now, it’s all about the next step. We need to improve ourselves and we just can’t ever compromise on it
Subrata Pal is expected to start in goal after he put in gritty performances in the Nehru Cup. Karanjit Singh and Subhasish Roy Chowdhury can come into action should Koevermans choose to experiment. The central defense pairing of Raju Gaikwad and Gouramangi Singh is expected to continue in this match. Both the players have age on their side and with their cordination improving with each passing match, it is unlikely that Koevermans will tinker with the combination. Mr. versatile Syed Rahim Nabi will start on the left side of the defense and as always his overlapping runs will hold the key to India’s performance. Either of Nirmal Chettri or Denzil Franco would start on the right flank.
Koevermans is likely to continue with his strategy of employing double defensive screens which are likely to be Mehtab Hossain and Lenny Rodrigues, both of whom have been in good touch. While Mehtab was the driving force behind East Bengal’s Federation Cup triumph , Lenny has shown tremendous work-rate for Churchill Brothers I-League and Federation Cup. Clifford Miranda and Sanju Pradhan, after an impressive run in the Nehru Cup, are likely to occupy the left and right flanks.
Koevermans’s fondness to employ a man behind the lone striker is well known and it was Francis Fernandez who played in this role in the Nehru Cup with reasonable success However Alwyn George has been in impressive form in this season and this might be his chance to get some playing time in this position after he warmed the benches in the Nehru Cup. Sunil Chhetri is expected to lead the team as well as be the target man upfront. The Indian Football fans would hope that he can make his experience count. Joachim Abranches makes a comeback to the team while Jeje and Manandeep have failed to make the cut.
The 20 member squad stays as follows
GoalKeepers: Subrata Pal, Subhasish Roy Chowdhury, Karanjit Singh.
Defenders: Nirmal Chhetri, Denzil Franco, Gouramangi Singh, Gurwinder Singh, Raju Gaikwad, Syed Rahim Nabi.
Midfielders: Lenny Rodrigues, Mehtab Hossain, Jewel Raja, Francis Fernandes, Alwyn George, Anthony Pereira, Sanju Pradhan, Clifford Miranda.
Forwards: Robin Singh, Sunil Chhetri, Joaquim Abranches.
Possible Starting XI (4-4-1-1): Subrata Pal; Rahim Nabi, Gourmangi Singh, Raju Gaikwad, Nirmal Chhetri; Clifford Miranda, Mehtab Hussain, Lenny Rodriguez, Sanju Pradhan; Alwyn George; Sunil Chhetri
- India and Singapore have faced each other 10 times before with India winning 4 and Singapore 5.
- India and Singapore played each other in the 2006 World Cup Qualifiers with both sides winning their home matches
- A number of Singapore players are naturalized citizens i.e they have adopted the citizenship of Singapore to play football.
- The Singapore squad includes 15 players from the Malaysia Super League outfit Lions XII
- Indian Skipper Sunil Chhetri has had only six minutes of playing time in his stint with Sporting Lisbon B since Nehru Cup final
Players To Watch Out For
Aleksandar Duric (Singapore)
The 42 year old striker is still going strong and will look to exploit Indian team’s weakness in defense, specially in the air. Singapore rely on him to score goals and he will have to put in another good performance to lead his side to a win
Syed Rahim Nabi (India)
An epitome of versatility and reliability, Syed Rahim Nabi has been India’ s savior on numerous occasions both at home and abroad. He is the man to watch out for and his stout defending and overlapping runs will hold the key for India again. He has formed a lethal understanding with Clifford Miranda on the left flank which is the source of most Indian attacks.
Singapore 1 -1 India
It is a match between two evenly matched teams separated by just 6 rungs on the FIFA Ranking Table. While Singapore have their home support to bank on, India come into the match on a high after retaining the Nehru Cup. It should be a fast paced encounter and TheHardTackle believes the match would end in a stalemate.
Click Here to Read a Feature on India U-14 team