Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Goa
6 pm,5th March, 2014
Indian National Football Team returns to action as it takes on the Bangladesh in a FIFA friendly at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Goa. The state of Goa which is home to four I-League clubs and is well known for its love towards the beautiful game, will be hosting a football friendly after a gap of more than two years. This is the first match in 2014 for both the teams and both will be looking to start with a win.
Team News And Tactical Brief
Wim Koevermans made five change to the team that played the twin friendlies against Philippines and Nepal in November last year. Pune FC goalkeeper Amrinder Singh and Churchill Brothers striker Balwant Singh earned maiden call ups to the team while Subrata Paul, Sandesh Jhingan and Alwyn George made a comeback to the national team.
All eyes will be on Subrata Paul , who has flown all the way from Denmark, where is playing with FC Vestsjaelland in the Danish SuperLiga. The presence of Subrata will no doubt bolster the morale of the team and his experience of playing in Europe will no doubt benefit the Blue Tigers. Churchill Brothers’ Denzil Franco played a key role in his team’s Federation Cup triumph and has cemented his place in the national team as a right back. He is expected to start in that position with Dempo youngster Narayan Das, who made his debut against Nepal in India’s last fixture, on the opposite flank. Arnab Mondal from East Bengal and Aibhorlang Khongjee from Mohun Bagan showed good coordination in India’s last two fixtures and look set to feature in the heart of defense. Both Arnab and Aibor are experienced I-League campaigners and will have to be on their toes against the Bangladeshi strikers. Raju Gaikwad, Sandesh Jhingan and Gurjinder Kumar are the the other defenders in the team and may be seen in action in second half.
Mehtab Hossain and Lenny Rodrigues have been the key players in Wim Koevermans’ setup over the last couple of years and the duo will once again anchor the Indian midfield. Lenny has been in tremendous form of late for Churchill Brothers would like to carry on the momentum into this match. The duo will be entrusted with keeping Bangladesh skipper Mamunul Islam under check. Clifford Miranda and Francis Fernandes are expected to tread the left and the right flanks respectively and will look to whip in crosses for the strikers. Both wingers have an eye for goal as they have demonstrated in the I-League and would look to score in this match as well. Youngsters Victorino Fernandes and Lalrindika Ralte may be given a look in the second part of the game to trouble the opposition with their speed.
The most talked about Indian player in I-League, Balwant Singh of Churchill Brothers has earned a well deserved call-up to the national team and is expected to make his debut. The 27 year old has been in form of his life and has scored 8 goals in I-League so far besides netting four times in the Federation Cup. He is expected to be partnered upfront by Skipper Sunil Chhetri who like Balwant has be in excellent form for Bengaluru FC. The fans are particularly excited to see Sunil-Balwant combination as for the first time in along time the Indian attack is likely to see two strikers who lead the attack for their clubs.
Possible Starting XI (4-4-2): Subrata Paul; Narayan Das, Aibhorlang Khongjee, Arnab Mondal, Denzil Franco; Clifford Miranda, Mehtab Hossain, Lenny Rodriguez, Francis Fernandes; Sunil Chhetri, Balwant Singh
Ranked 164 in the world, the Bangladesh Football team is coached by Lodewijk de Kruif, who has been with the team for almost an year now. As many as 10 players in the national team participated in IFA Shield for their club Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi Club and would be looking to make use of that experience. A lot of players from those 10 are expected to start in the match and the 21 member team has three changes from the team which played in the SAFF Championship.
The 21 member squad is as follows
Goalkeepers: Shahidul Alam Shel, Mazharul Islam, Biplob Bhattacharjee
Defenders: Rayhan Hasan, Mohammad Linkon, Topu Barman, Nasiruddin Chowdhury, Yeasin Khan, Atiqur Rahman Meshu, Yeamin Ahmed Munna, Didarul Haque
Midfielders: Mamunul Islam (C), Sohel Rana, Hemanta Vincent Biswas, Rubel Mia Towhidul Alam, Jamal Bhuiyan.
Strikers: Zahid Hasan Emily, Toklis Ahmed, Mithun Chowdhury, Aminur Rahman Sajib
Sheikh Jamal goalkeeper Mazharul Islam is likely to start under the post for the Bengal Tigers. The back-four is likely to comprise of vice captain Nasiruddin Chowdhury, Mohammed Linkon, Waly Faisal and Aiqur Rahaman Meshu with Nasiruddin and Linkon coming from Sheikh Jamal. Like the hosts , the Bangladesh team also has an inexperienced defense with left back Waly Faisal the most experienced campaigner with 31 caps to his name. Center back Meshu who scored with from a corner against India in the SAFF Cup has his task cut out specially given the form Indian forwards are in.
Skipper Mamunul Islam is the most important player in team and is the pivot in the 4-3-3 system that his team adopts. The central midfielder is the source of creativity in his team and impressed with his performances in the IFA Shield. His battle with Mehtab and Lenny could very well decide the result of this match. Jamal Bhuyan, a Danish-born Bangladeshi national is expected to start on the right side of the midfield. Bhuyan who made his debut in the SAFF Championships last year plies his trade in Denmark. Sohel Rana is expected to complete the three man midfield.
With 11 goals in 52 caps to his name, Zahid Hasan Emily is expected to lead the strike force for Bangladesh along with the highly rated Toklish Ahmed of the Sheikh Jamal club. Mithun Chowdhury is expected to complete the front line for the visitors.
Possible Starting XI (4-3-3): Mazharul Islam; Waly Faisal, Aiqur Rahaman Meshu, Nasiruddin Chowdhury, Mohammed Linkon; Sohel Rana, Mamunul Islam, Jamal Bhuyan; Mithun Chowdhury, Zahid Hasan Emily, Toklish Ahmed
Players To Watch Out For
Sunil Chhetri (India)
With 41 goals in 73 matches , Sunil Chhetri is always the man to watch out for when team India plays. Sunil comes into the match having scored 10 goals in the I-League for his club Bengaluru FC where he also dropped to the midfield to provide several assist for his fellow strikers. With Balwant Singh in red hot form, it remains to be seen how Wim Koevermans uses his most experienced player. 2013 was a relatively poor year for Chhetri by his standards and he will look to start the new year with a bang.
Mamunul Islam (Bangladesh)
Despite playing only 10 minutes in his team’ s match against India in the SAFF Cup, Mamunul made a telling contribution as it was his corner that led to the goal. His vision and link up play is crucial for the team and there were rumors of several Kolkata clubs being interested in him after his showing in the IFA Shield. The Bangladeshi skipper just like his Indian counterpart is an important figure in his side and the other players look up to him for inspiration.
India 3-1 Bangladesh
It is expected to be a cracker of match between the two neighbors but the home advantage and the presence of two in-form strikers gives India the edge. TheHardTackle predicts a 3-1 win for team India.
Blast From The Past
We leave you with the highlights of the last match between the two teams from the 2013 SAFF Championship which ended in a 1-1 draw.