Guam National Football Stadium, HagA?t a
16 June, 2015
Having put up a respectable performance in the first match of 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers against Oman, the Indian National Football team now faces Guam in the second match. While India went down 2-1 to Oman, Guam defeated Turkmenistan 1-0 on match day 1 to record their first ever victory in a Football World Cup qualifying match. Guam’ s win has made the fight for the third spot in Group D a three way race as Iran and Oman are expected to take the first two positions.
India and Guam squared off in the 2013 AFC Challenge Cup qualifiers – a match that Indian went on to win 4-0. Guam has made rapid strides since then and will be looking to win their second straight match against India.
Team News And Tactical Brief
Popularly known as Matao, Guam are perched at 174th position in the FIFA Rankings and are the lowest ranked team in Group D. 40 year old Brit Gary White has been in-charge of the team since 2012 and under him Guam have made rapid strides as was highlighted by their win over Turkmenistan in their last match. Guam have as many as five US based players in their squad with a couple of them playing in MLS.
Just like in the first match against Turkmenistan, 26 year old Doug Herrick is expected to start under the bar for the hosts and he will look to carry his outstanding form from the last match in this match as well. Standing tall at 6ft 4 inches, Herrick is based in America and will like to use his height to his advantage. The defense is led by 27 year old A. J. DeLaGarza who in 2012 represented USA in a couple of international matches. Having played over 160 matches for top tier MLS side LA Galaxy, DeLaGarza is tasked with leading the Guam defense. 29 year old Brandon McDonald, who also brings with him the experience of having played in MLS is likely to accompany DeLaGarza in the heart of the defense. Both DeLaGarza and McDonald will be tasked with the responsibility to keeping Indian skipper Sunil Chhetri under check. Alexander Lee will occupy the right back spot and just like in the match against Turkmenistan will look to overlap. Mason Grimes is likely to complete the four man back-four for the hosts.
It is in the midfield where Guam really pack a punch. Having had trials with Crystal Palace FC of England and Hannover 96 of Germany, Ryan Guy is one of the most influential players in the Guam lineup and the midfielder was once close to earning a call-up to the US National team. It was infact Ryan’s long thrown that caused havoc in the Turkmenistan defense and led to the goal. The midfield also featured captain Jason Cunliffe who is the most capped player in the team’ s history with 35 caps. In addition to being the most capped player, Cunliffe is also the top goal scorer in Guam’ s history with 17 goals. Shawn Nicklaw is the defensive midfielder in the team and the 26 year old brings with the experience of Danish Superliga, the highest division in Denmark. In 2014 Nicklaw aslo had a short stint with Icelandic Premier League club ThA?r . With close to 30 appearances, Ian Mariano is expected to be the fourth midfielder in Gary White’ s 4-4-2 formation. In comparison to their rivals India, the Guam midfield is relatively experienced and will look to out number their counterparts in the middle third of the ground.
John Matkin who played for United Sikkim in 2012/13 season of the I-League is expected to lead the attack along with the 23 year old Shane Malcolm. Matkina s experience of playing in India will prove vital for Guam in this match.
Possible Starting XI (4-4-2): Doug Herrick; Mason Grimes, A. J. DeLaGarza, Brandon McDonald, Alexander Lee; Ian Mariano, Jason Cunliffe, Shawn Nicklaw, Ryan Guy; John Matkin, Shane Malcolm.
Despite being a home match, India were always expected to lose against the more fancied Oman side but what was pleasing to see was the fight that the Blue Tigers put up. The team fought well for throughout the game- a quality rarely associated with the Indian team of last 3-4 years. While India preferred to sit back and defend in number against Oman, it will be interesting to see whether Stephen Constantine adopts an attacking strategy against Guam.
Subrata Pal made some good saves under the bar but he was also found wanting while receiving passes from his defenders – s skill that modern day goalkeepers ought to have. The clamor to bring Gurpreet Singh in the team is growing stronger by the day but it looks unlikely that Constantine will tinker with the team. The Indian defense featured 3 debutants in the match against Oman and with Sandesh Jhingan injured, Constantine will look to avoid more changes in the backline as it would unsettle the defense further. Captain Arnab Mondal was solid at the back and the only mistake he made was in the first minute of the game which led to the first Oman goal. Dhanachandra Singh grew in stature as the game progressed and the make-shift central defender will look to build on the second half showing. Rino Anto and Lalchhuan Mawia were forced to stay back by the pacy Oman wingers but should get more opportunities to tread forward and help the team build from the wings.
Eugeneson Lyngdoh ensured that the Indian midfield was not over-powered by the Oman midfield as the 28 year old provided the link between the defense and the attack. The Bengaluru FC player of the year was spot on with his dead-ball delivers and often provided the first line of resistance to the Oman attack. Against Guam he should get more opportunities to showcase his attacking prowess. Being an away match it is unlikely that Cavin Lobo will start which means Sehnaj Singh who put in an industrious shift against Oman, especially in the first half should take up the role of a defensive midfielder. Sehnaj will have to keep the likes of Ryan Guy and Jason Cunliffe under check. C K Vineeth was a bundle of energy on the left flank as he contributed effectively in defense against the more attack minded Oman side. Jackichand Singh on the other hand appeared lost and couldn’t contribute much to the game and looks all set to be replaced by his Wahingdoh teammate Seityasen Singh on the right side. India were unable to spread the ball and build from the flanks against Oman and both the wingers will have to do a better job in this match.
Sunil Chhetri who scored a brace when India defeated Guam 4-0 in their previous outing will be the key player in the Indian team and the burden of scoring will again rest on the shoulders of the Indian vice-captain. Robin Singh was found guilty of being offside on several occasions and the lanky striker who was overpowered by the more physical Oman defenders will look to put in an improved performance against Guam where he will be able to make better use of his height.
Possible Starting XI (4-4-2): Subrata Pal; Lalchhuan Mawia, Dhanachandra Singh, Arnab Mondal, Rino Anto; C K Vineeth, Eugeneson Lyngdoh, Sehnaj Singh, Seityasen Singh; Robin Singh, Sunil Chhetri
Ryan Guy (Guam)
The fact that Ryan Guy was on verge of breaking in to USAa s national team speaks volumes about his talent. Guam coach Gary White expressed great pleasure when Ryan decided to turn up for Guam calling it a great step for Guam football. Ryana s pace can cause trouble in the inexperienced India defense which is know to be susceptible against pace.
Sunil Chhetri (India)
Chhetri silenced his critics who were criticising him for a poor season with Bengaluru FC by scoring a gem of a goal against Oman and the Bengaluru FC skipper will look to add to his tally against a weaker Guam defense. Chhetri’ s importance to the team can be gauged from the fact that he has scored all three goals that India have scored in the World Cup qualifiers til now.
Guam 1-2 India
The Blue Tigers start as favorites in this match despite the fact hosts Guam come into the match on back of a win against Turkmenistan. India will draw inspiration from the fact that they defeated Guam 4-0 in their previous match and will edge out Guam 2-1 in a hard fought match to notch up their first win of the World Cup qualifiers.