Kanchenjunga Stadium, Siliguri, West Bengal

6th October 2014, 17:30 IST



Apart from the Indian Super League covering the nation in its razzmatazz, a certain friendly which could decide the fate of manager Wim Koevermans, will be played at Siliguri on the 6th of October.

To start with, India had a miserable Asian Games Campaign, succumbing to three defeats while failing to score even a single goal. Win-less in four matches, possible replacements for Koeverman’s job are lining up. Adding to their woes, the second friendly which was to be played on the 9th of October has been cancelled, however this could turn out to be a blessing in disguise, as the men in blue are in pathetic form, and defeats in both the friendlies looks inevitable.

Palestine on the contrary, dropped 14 places to 102, after roadblocks in their footballing endeavors. However the football crazy nation, would be out to prove their point and justify their pedigree of winning the 2014 AFC Challenge Cup, whilst reaching an all time high of 94 rank in June. Adopting a fast game, with suitable movements, Palestine would be out to justify their tag of ‘Lions of Canaan’, as they are already dubbed for an easy win, in this tie.

Team News and Tactical Brief :


Even after a chain of win-less streaks, Wim Koevermans is set to stick with his 4-2-3-1, a formation which played to no go effect, ever since it was conceived, by the Indians. The Squad consists of senior players, highlighted with streaks of young talents, such as Sandesh Jhinghan and Narayan Das. The squad again looks to be chosen on the basis of ‘Indian Pedigree’ as the likes of Cavin Lobo and Mandar Rao Desai, are left hanging while scapegoat Francis Fernandes is picked. The inclusion of Seniors guarantees an experience level of some sort, while exposing lack of match fitness, as these players have not featured regularly in competitive matches, ever since the conclusion of I-League. A gamble which could cost Koevermans his job, perhaps it is time for the Dutch, to display his acumen and tactical know-how.

Subrata Pal has been dubbed as 'The Indian Spiderman'

Subrata Pal has been dubbed as ‘The Indian Spiderman’

Dubbed as the ‘Indian Spider man’ after his heroics, Subrata Pal is likely to guard the stick, ahead of Pune FC’s Arminder Singh. Arminder Singh who had his fair share of chances in the Two Friendlies against Pakistan and the Asian Games, justified his position, providing decent saves when needed, however ‘Seniority’ and ‘Legendary Status’ is most likely to give way for Subrata Pal to start.

Raju Gaikwad and Arnab Mondal, are expected to constitute the center back pairing, whilst sidelining Sandesh Jhinghan, who has been the find of the year, thus far. Doning a Red and Gold jersey, both Mondal and Gaikwad have an existing chemistry, which could be a huge positive for the Indian Backline. Mondal and Gaikwad, both have been instrumental in victories past, however match fitness could yet again be the villain, as regular matches have eluded the East Bengal pair.

Narayan Das is expected to start in the left back spot, as ironically the Indian Squad has only him, as the recognized Left Back. Narayan, who has been average and at times below-par in the recent endeavors, could very well cement his position and redeem himself, if he displays excellent performances. The right back spot is expected to be filled in by Denzil Franco. Both Denzil and Das, are expected to play a contained game, with overlapping rarely witnessed.

The Midfield Pivot is expected to be filled in by the pairing of Mehtab Hossain and Lenny Rodrigues. Both Mehtab and Lenny, have played their part to perfection in yester wins, but lack of match fitness could again prove to be the Achilles Heel. The Attacking trio of Franics Fernandes, Sunil Chettri and Clifford Miranda are expected to provide ammo to the ‘misfiring’ Robin Singh.

Sunil Chhetri had a forgetful opening game against Pakistan

Sunil Chhetri could once again prove to be the leading light

Even after disappointing performances, failed appearances and pathetic display, Francis Fernandes, still seems to be the favorite of Wim. A player, providing absolute nothing to the team, features regularly as dead weight, dragging down the right flank. Sunil Chhetri, as always is the leading light of this contingent. His performances in the Asian Games, were perhaps the best among the 23 member squad. Sunil, is expected to play in the Creative Midfielder role, however with the pivot sitting deep, Chhetri is often seen to patrol the Central Midfield Area, a sight which could most possibly be seen in the upcoming match.

Perhaps, the most senior player in the team, Clifford Miranda is expected to start on the left wing. Clifford has been a part of the National Setup ever since his inclusion in 2005. A player with an ability to dribble and deliver deadly crosses, perhaps Miranda can provide suitable ammo to Robin Singh.

After failed matches, it is perhaps high time for Robin Singh to justify his position in the team. Robin, who usually should operate as a target-man, pinning down balls for Chhetri and co. , is often seen performing this exact opposite. Failing to convert, rare chances which comes Robin ways, it is perhaps time for him to step up his game, and provide subtle finishes, that he is capable of.

Apart from the ‘hallagulla’ surrounding Indian Super League, the National team is in tatters, which is visible to one and all. High-profile friendlies such as this are hard to come by, and there may be a lot to learn from experiences such as this. However, with the ailing squad, a victory nonetheless is expected by every Indian Fan, and defeat perhaps could be equivalent to possible sacking. Promising an ‘advanced’ style of play ever since he replaced Bob Houghton, Wim Koevermans has failed constantly to deliver what was expected. This friendly could prove to be the final nail in the coffin, if the Indian Team does not perform, or fails to capture hearts.

Expected StartingXI against Palestine : Subrata Pal, Denzil Franco, Arnab Mondal, Raju Gaikwad, Narayan Das, Mehtab Hossain,Lenny Rodrigues, Francis Fernandes, Sunil Chhetri(C), Clifford Miranda, Robin Singh.


Likely Starting XI Against Palestine

The squad for the upcoming friendlies contain :-

Goalkeepers: Subrata Paul, Karanjit Singh, Amrinder Singh.
Defenders: Denzil Franco, Pritam Kotal, Arnab Mondal, Raju Gaikwad, Sandesh Jhinghan, Aiborlang Khongjee, Narayan Das.
Midfielders: Mehtab Hossain, Lenny Rodrigues, Arata Izumi, Lalkamal Bhowmick, Francis Fernandes, Clifford Miranda, Victorino Fernandes.
Forwards: Sunil Chhetri, Robin Singh, Balwant Singh.
Standbyes: Shilton Paul, Arindam Bhattacharya, Rowilson Rodrigues, Gabriel Fernandes, Seminlen Doungel, Siam Hanghal, Lalrindika Ralte, Thongkhosem Haokip.


Meanwhile sitting at 102 rank, Palestine have adopted a fast pace game, with pacey wingers as their sucker punch. Palestine’s newly appointed coach Saeb Jendeya has selected Palestine’s squad for match against India.
The squad consists of :

Goalkeepers : Tawfiq Ali Abu Hammad,Ikram Rami Hamada, Ramzi Saleh
Defenders : Haytham Theeb,Ahmed Salama,Abdelatif Al-Bahdari,Mus’ab Al-Batat,Raed Fares,Hussam Abu Saleh,Adham Abu Rwais,Ahmed Harbi,Houssam Wadi
Midfielders : Khader Yousef Abu Hammad,Khaled Salem,Abdullah Jaber,Murad Ismail Said,Hesham Al-Saleh,Hilal Musa,Ahmad Miari,Abdelhamid Abuhabib,Tamer Seyam Salah,Mousa Abu Jazar
Forwards : Ismail Al-Amour,Ashraf Nu’man,Mahmoud Abuwarda

Key Players:

Sunil Chhetri (India) 

Captain Fantastic, as he is called, would once again look to re-light the dying Indian flame. Sunil, who has played his part to near perfection in the recent matches, would be operating in the region behind club team-mate Robin Singh. Defense piercing passes, and beating on defenders is expected from the Chhetri. He could very well go on to change the course of the match.

Ashraf Nu’man (Palestine)

The 24year old attacking midfielder who can also play in the wings, has been nothing short of inspirational for the palestinian outfit. Top Scoring in the recent 2014 AFC Challenge Cup with four goals, Ashraf, will look to harass the Indian Defense by his quick burst of speed. A goal or two by the Al-Faisaly man, could be expected in this match.


India 0 – Palestine 3

The last time the two countries met in an international friendly was in February 2013 in Kochi when Palestine beat India 4-2. The same script, is perhaps set to be repeated this time around, as the fast pace Palestinian Games is expected to blow Indian Covers. There could be spells of relentless Palestinian attacks which could very well result into goals.The Hard Tackle predicts a dominant Palestine performance which would go on to sink the Indian Ship.