K petdag Stadium, Ashgabat
8th October, 2015
Indian National Football team travels to Ashgabat to take on Turkmenistan in the fourth match of the second round of 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers and the match can be dubbed as a do or die match for both the teams as both India and Turkmenistan are perched at the bottom two slots of group D. With the tournament also being used as the qualifiers for the 2019 Asian Cup, a win for either of the teams could go a long way in their quest for their qualification for the tournament
Team News And Tactical Brief
Ranked 155th in the FIFA Rankings, Turkmenistan began their campaign with a 1-0 loss to Guam before holding Iran to a 1-1 draw in their second match. The team however faltered in their next match and went down to Oman 3-1. With just a point from three matches, the Turks would be looking to make most of this home match against an under-prepared Indians. The Turks will however miss the services of their dynamic midfielder Ruslan Mingazov who will miss the tie due to illness.
As has been the case in the three matches so far 31 year old Nikita Gorbunow is likely to start under the post for the hosts. The defense will be led by A?agmyrmyrat Annamyradow who comes in with the experience of having played for Uzbek club Navbahor in 2007-08. The 32 year old will be entrusted with the task of keeping Sunil Chhetri under check. He will be partnered by 30 year old BagtyA?ar Hojaahmedow, who in 2013 won the Presidents Cup with FC Balkan and has 29 national team caps to his name. The four man backline will also feature 21 year old Mekan Saparow and 23 year old Az hrat S A?A?now.
The midfield will be led by 30 year old attacking midfielder Artur GeworkA?an, who has been playing for Uzbek club FC Nasaf since 2011, won the AFC Cup in 2011 with Nasaf and was the highest goal-scorer in the previous edition of the Uzbek league in addition to having been named the Uzbek League player of the year in 2013. In the absence of Mingazov, GeworkA?an will be the key player for Turkmenistan. He will be accompanied in the center of the park by Arslanmyrat Amanow who plays for Olmaliq FK in the Uzbek League having also played in the Kazakhstan Premier League. 33 year skipper Ahmet AtaA?ew is the defensive midfielder in the team and will be entrusted with the task of breaking down the Indian attacks. 27 year old Guwan Abylow completes the four man midfield for the hosts and the 27 year old has scored twice in 16 matches for his nation. Turkmenistan will count upon their experienced midfield to overpower their inexperienced Indian counterparts.
The striking department will feature 21 year old SA?leA?man Muhadow who has two goals to his name from six national team caps. The youngster was named as the most valuable player of the 2014 AFC Presidents Cup and will look to get on the score-sheet against India. 30 year old Serdaraly AtaA?ew is likely to start alongside Muhadow in the two man attack for the home team.
Possible Starting XI (4-4-2): Nikita Gorbunow; Az hrat S A?A?now, A?agmyrmyrat Annamyradow, BagtyA?ar Hojaahmedow, Mekan Saparow; Arslanmyrat Amanow, Artur GeworkA?an, Ahmet AtaA?ew, Guwan Abylow; Serdaraly AtaA?ew, SA?leA?man Muhadow
Amidst the backdrop of the start of the Indian Super League, Indian National Football team has traveled to Turkmenistan without any practice much against the wishes of national team coach Stephen Constantine. Both AIFF and ISL management have drawn criticism from fans for not releasing the players a week prior to the qualifiers in order to let them prepare for the twin away games against Turkmenistan and Oman. Having lost all three of their matches till now, it remains to be seen how the players having assembled just three days before the match.
Gurpreet Singh Sandu started the match against Iran and portrayed a confident image under the bar in the first half. Despite being caught out of position for Iran’ s second goal, Sandhu who plays for Stabek FC in Norway should retain his spot in the starting lineup. The Indian defense has seen many a changes in the last few games but for the first time it looks likely that the back four which played against Iran will be retained for the match against Turkmenistan. Sandesh Jhingan who stole the show with his valiant efforts against Iran will be the key for India in this away match. Arnab Mondal who comes into the match after featuring in the Athletico de Kolkata’ s opening fixture against Chennaiyin FC should take his place alongside Sandesh Jhingan. Narayan Das who made a return from injury in the match against Iran should take his place on the left flank. The Dempo youngster looked shaky as he was beaten by the speedy Iranian wingers and would be looking to put in an improved performance in this match. Young Pritam Kotal dished out a good performance against Iran and will occupy the opposite right flank. Kotal kept a tight vigil on Dejagah and also tried to help offensively whenever the opportunity came.
Eugenson Lyngdoh featured on the right flank against Iran, a decision for which Stephen Constantine drew a lot of flak as Eugenson cut a lonely figure on the field throughout the match. With Pronoy Halder and Rowlin Borges putting in impressive shifts in the heart of the midfield against Iran, it looks likely that Eugenson would start on the right side once again. Rowlin Borges of Sporting Clube de Goa had a great game against Iran after he came off as a substitute in the 13th minute and he would look to build on that performance. Pronoy and Rowlin will have to keep the Turk midfield especially Artur GeworkA?an under check. Jackichand Singh, who had a visible impact on the Indian attack after he came on against Iran should occupy his place on the left midfield.
Robin Singh who earned praise for his hardworking performance on the left side of the midfield in the match against Iran should return to his striking role in the match against Turkmenistan. Robin should repalce, Jeje who was guilty of spurring the chances that came his way in the match against Iran. Having been forced to play in a withdrawn role in the match against Iran, Sunil Chhetri will be looking to add to his goal tally. The all time Indian goal-scorer has scored against Nepal, Oman and Guam in the World Cup qualifiers and would be looking to put in another inspiring performance to lead India to a much needed win.
Possible Starting XI (4-4-2): Gurpreet Singh Sandu; Narayan Das, Sandesh Jhingan, Arnab Mondal, Pritam Kotal; Jackichand Singh, Rowlin Borges, Pronoy Halder, Eugenson Lyngdoh; Robin Singh, Sunil Chhetri
Artur GeworkA?an (Turkmenistan)
Turkmenistan will try to overpower the inexperienced Indian midfield in this match and it is in this regard that the performance of Artur GeworkA?an holds the key to Turkmenistan’s performance in the match. Having won the MVP award in 2011 AFC Cup, GeworkA?an has played in the Uzbek league for almost nine years now and will look to make use of his experience in this match.
Sandesh Jhingan (India)
Iran may have won the match against India but it was Sandesh Jhingan who won the hearts with his brave effort in the heart of the defense against a superior Iran attack. The Kerala Blasters defender will be the key player when India square off against Turkmenistan and if he and Arnab can keep the apposition strikers under check, India will have a chance of winning the tie.
Turkmenistan 1-1 India
Despite having the home advantage, Turkmenistan will miss the services of their talismatic midfielder Ruslan Mingazov who scored the equalizer against Iran. India on the other hand will be motivated by their performance against Iran and would look to get their first point of their campaign. TheHardTackle predicts the match to end in a draw.