United Arab Emirates
Hwaseong Stadium,South Korea
15th September 2014, 13:30 IST
Few weeks ago, the Indian Football Team was unsure about their potential participation in the Asian Games, however after much ruckus, chaos and complain the Teams were allowed to participate in the 17th edition of the Asian Games, being held in Incheon, South Korea. Drawn into a tough group alongside 65th ranked United Arab Emirates and 56th ranked Jordan, progression from this group of death is almost unlikely for the Men In Blue. However, an inspired Indian side could very well annihilate this diktat.
The Indians face UAE in their opening fixture of the tournament, on the 15th of September. Despite UAE ranked much higher than India, the Men in Blue will take inspiration from their last two meeting with the Arabs, both of which ended in draws.
A dose of motivation could easily be injected, after taking a glance look at the AFC 22 Qualifiers in Muscat, wherein UAE managed to hold an unstoppable India to a 1-1 draw, after the boys in blue dominated the Arabs. Besides that, the 2-2 draw in the World Cup Qualifiers in New Delhi are another sight of sheer inspiration.
However, matches are neither won on inspiration nor on motivation but on tactical brilliance and quality.
Team News And Tactical Brief :
There is a cliched saying ‘Two wrongs dont make a right‘, in English . The inclusion of three senior player operating in the final third yet again, could well be the wound India could succumb too. The friendly matches against a lowly Pakistan side neither showed quality nor class of those three ,excluding captain Sunil Chhetri, gelling up with the U-23 squad. The two friendly matches ended in disappointing results as the Indian failed to dominate even one of them, winning by a narrow 1-0 margin in the first and losing 2-0 in the second. However, bright spots were observed as Sandesh Jhinghan, Mandar Rao Desai and Sunil Chhetri played their parts to perfection. A side still unbalanced due to contrasting player roles, perhaps a decent and sensible inclusion of three senior player could be 1 attacker, 1 midfielder and 1 defender.
Pune FC Goalkeeper Arminder Singh who made some sensational saves during the friendlies, is expected to start and ply his role between the sticks. Pritam Kotal and Narayan Das are probable to constitute the right and left back positions respectively. Operating as modern day wing backs, both Pritam and Das, provide an extra man in the midfield region via their darting runs. TFA Academy Cadet Narayan Das has been one of the solid points of the Dempo team last season, his fellow compatriot Kotal has also performed decently for Mohun Bagan and bagged in a couple of assists. However, their darting runs also leave free space behind them, which could be taken advantage of by the pacy Arab Strikers. The Central Defense is one position which has come into the scanner recently, with both Sandesh Jhinghan and Joyner Laourenco still budding. Sandesh Jhinghan played a solid defensive wall in the friendlies against Pakistan, clearing any signs of danger on sight. His accurate long diagonals could also be one of the weapons in the Indian Arsenal. Defensive partner Joyner is however a defensive frailty as compared to his companion, still inexperienced Joyner has developed a penchant for loosing balls easily, which could very well lead to ample of goals.
Wim Koevermans is likely to stick to his favorite formation, 4-2-3-1 with Pronay Halder and Lalrindika Ralte likely to start in the pivot. Both Halder and Ralte are known for their tireless running and hard work. Lalrindika Ralte on the contrary has also developed a liking for long shots, being instrumental with East Bengal, ‘dika’ as he is know, is perhaps one of the best long shot takes in the country. Able to ply his trade in the left wing too, dika’s versatility can be to India’s gain in an attacking sense of mind.
Mandar Rao Desai, Sunil Chhetri and Francis Fernandes will constitute the attacking trio and force behind striker Robin Singh. Mandar Rao Desai and Sunil Chhetri have been both in sensational forms, picking up passes, splitting defenses and taking on defenders. Both of them, are the leading lights in this Indian Contingent, Chhettri who has been nothing less than instrumental for India ever since his inclusion in the squad, is one of the strongest link. Mandar however young has a penchant of drifting wide, taking on defenders and delivering pin-point crosses, a modus operandi that would be useful to target-man Robin Singh. Francis Fernandes however, has still not justified his inclusion in the side, being below average in friendlies. Ironically, Coach Koevermans will stick with this attacking trio behind leading man Robin Singh, who still has a lot to prove.
Wim Koeverman’s side come into this tie as overwhelming underdogs. Disappointing performances against Pakistan and in exposure trips to China and Czech Republic have not helped their case. It is sadly certain that the Indians cannot in this tie with the form and transition the team is in, however a respectable performance could be appreciated by the indian faithful. With possible replacement lining up for Koeverman’s job, it is perhaps the right setting and stage for the dutch to show case his masterclass, flex his tactical muscle, display an array of beautiful football and silence his critics. The 23men chosen for the Asian Games are as follows :
Goalkeepers: Amrinder Singh, Ravi Kumar, Kamaljit Singh.
Defenders: Pritam Kotal, Keenan Almeida, Joyner Lourenco, Shankar Sampingiraj, Sandesh Jhingan, Narayan Das.
Midfielders: Pronoy Halder, Clifton Dias, Siam Hangal, Lalrindika Ralte, Milan Singh.
Forwards: Francis Fernandes (senior Player), Seiminlen Doungel, Sunil Chhetri (senior player), Robin Singh (senior player), Haokip Thongkoshim, Mandar Rao Desai.
India’s likely XI against UAE: Amrinder Singh; Pritam Kotal, Sandesh Jhingan, Joyner Laurenco, Narayan Das; Francis Fernandes, Pronay Halder, Lalrindika Ralte, Mandar Rao Desai; Sunil Chhetri, Robin Singh
UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
The Arabs are one of the powerhouses in Asia, high fancied to go through the preliminary round, United Arab Emirates have blended a squad of their U-23 and U-21 sides. However there are many expectation from coach Ali Ebrahim to convert the Silver won in 2010, into Gold. With Players such as the experienced midfielder Sultan Bargash, who is also one of the senior players of the team, coming from the UAE Arabian Gulf League, it is impossible to see why the Arabs could not go to thrash India. Coach Ali has however safeguarded his players and warned about complacency against the boys in blue.
With a clash lurking with mighty Iran after the preliminary rounds, UAE are hellbent on producing top notch performances to emerge as group winners and avoid the ghoulish clash. Preparing in the host nation of South Korea itself, the training camp was exposed players to hardships and prepared them for friendlies on Korean soil. UAE are supposedly among the medal prospects in the footballing category and their experience and talent has justified so.
There is also a contrasting picture behind the scene as the UAE ambassador to South Korea Abdulla Khalfan Al Rumaithi met the players and urged them to make the country proud, whereas the Indian Contingent where facing an axe from the tournament itself. However small, these inputs can somehow influence the nature of the result.
India 1 – United Arab Emirates 3
This encounter could very well see the Arabs getting the best from the Indians. There could be spells of relentless Arab attacks which could very well result into goals. However an Indian Goal might be scored in the counterattack, with Mandar Rao Desai likely to produce the final ball. The Hard Tackle predicts a dominant UAE performance which would go on to sink the Indian Ship.