Sree Kanteerawa Stadium, Bangalore
12 November, 2015
Away from the glitz and glamour of the Indian Super League, Indian National Football team hosts Guam at the Sree Kanteerawa Stadium in Bangalore on Thursday. While India come into the match perched at last spot in Group D and having lost all the five matches they have played, Guam are placed at the fourth position in the group with seven points.
Team News and Tactical Brief
Nothing has gone right for Stephen Constantine and the Blue Tigers ever since the home win over Nepal in the preliminary round of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers. India has gone winless since that match. Constantine has given a plethora of reasons for the disappointing performance of the national team ranging from non-allowance of PIOs (Person of Indian Origin) to the lack of preparation time due to the Indian Super League. The national team was under-prepared in the two defeats away to Oman and Turkmenistan and the lack of will to fight was clearly visible. Guam, however, is an opponent that can be beaten at home and skipper Sunil Chhetri has stated that another loss to the tiny Island nation will be hard to digest.
Gurpreet Singh Sandhu has been the first choice custodian for the Blue Tigers in last three matches and the former East Bengal goalkeeper looks set to start under the bar once again. Sandhu had a good game against Oman and made a string of impressive saves and a lot will depend on him in this match as well. The heart of the defense will be manned by the duo of Arnab Mondal and Sandesh Jhingan who have become regular starters for the Blue Tigers in the recent times. Jhingan in particular will be looking to replicate the performance he displayed at Bangalore when India played against Iran. Pritam Kotal should start on the right flank while Lalchhuanmawia should pip Narayan Das for the left back spot as the FC Goa player has struggled to find regular playing time in the Indian Super League.
Constantine may play with a 3 man midfield in order to add more fire power in the striking department. Eugenson Lyngdoh may not have been performed well for the national team in the last couple of matches but the FC Pune City midfielder comes into this match on back of some impressive performances in the Indian Super League. Eugenson is expected to lead the Blue Tigers from the heart of midfield where he will be accompanied by Sehnaj Singh of Delhi Dynamos. Sehnaj is expected to be tasked with the role of breaking down Guam’s attacking forays. FC Goa’ s Romeo Fernandes should keep Francis Fernandes on the bench for the place on the right side of the midfield in the three man midfield.
Sunil Chhetri is expected to play in the hole behind the to strikers and a lot will be riding on the Mumbai City FC player in this match. Chhetri was on target when India played Guam in the away match and comes into this match in a rich vein of form having scored six goals for Mumbai City FC in as many matches. Robin Singh who has been on target twice for the Delhi Dynamos this season would be looking to score in the national team colors as well while having scored against Turkmenistan in the away match, Jeje would be looking to give a good account of himself in this match.
Possible Starting XI (4-3-1-2): Gurpreet Singh Sandhu; Lalchhuanmawia, Sandesh Jhingan, Arnab Mondal, Pritam Kotal; Sehnaj Singh, Eugenson Lyngdoh, Romeo Fernandes; Sunil Chhetri; Robin Singh, Jeje Lalpekhlua
Guam have been the surprise story in Group D of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers. Gary White’ s team have picked up seven points so far though all of them have come at home. Guam defeated Turkmenistan in their opening match followed by a win over India in their second match besides holding Oman to a draw in their fourth match. Guam have improved by leaps and bounds under Gary White and will be looking for their first away points of the campaign when they face India. The team arrived in Bangalore on the 7th in order to better acclimatized to the Indian climate.
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 will led the defense for the Matao. 29 year old Brandon McDonald who has played in all five World Cup qualifiers for Guam will partner DeLaGarza in the heart of the defense. McDonald , who also brings with him the experience of having played in MLS scored the opening goal against India in Guam’ s home match. Alexander Lee and Mason Grimes will complete the four man defense line for Guam.
The midfield will be led by Ryan Guy who has had trials with Crystal Palace FC of England and Hannover 96 of Germany. It was in fact Guy’ s long throw in in that led to the opening goals for Guam against Turkmenistan and India. The midfield also features captain Jason Cunliffe who is the most capped player in the teama s history and also the top goal scorer in Guama s history. Shawn Nicklaw is expected to feature on the left side of the midfield for the team and the 26 year old brings with the experience of Danish Superliga, the highest division in Denmark. In 2014, Nicklaw also had a short stint with Icelandic Premier League club ThA?r. Travis Nicklaw who scored the second goal in Guam’ s 2-1 win over India is the fourth midfielder in the Guam setup.
23 year old Shane Malcolm who in the reverse fixture caused trouble to the Indian defense with his pace and trickery is expected to lead the forward line. John Matkin who played for United Sikkim in 2012/13 season of the I-League is expected to lead partner Malcolm in the attack for Guam.
Possible Starting XI (4-4-2): Doug Herrick; Mason Grimes, A. J. DeLaGarza, Brandon McDonald, Alexander Lee; Shawn Nicklaw, Jason Cunliffe, Travis Nicklaw, Ryan Guy; John Matkin, Shane Malcolm.
India 1-1 Guam
Unlike the matches against Oman and Turkmenistan, most of the Indian players come into this match with adequate match fitness having played in the Indian Super League. As always the crowd in Bangalore is expected to rally behind the Blue Tigers and play the role of the 12th man. Guam however will be a tough nut to crack and hence TheHardTackle predicts a 1-1 draw.