King’s Cup 2019 | India’s predicted XI against Curacao

King’s Cup 2019 | India’s predicted XI against Curacao

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More than the outcome of the match between India and Curacao, the kind of eleven Igor Stimac starts with would attract huge attention on Wednesday. Taking as many eight debutants with him in the 23-man squad, the Croatian coach has already made a statement about how he sees his side in the future.

Stimac has been the quintessential centre-half during his playing career and it was only obvious that he would be a predominantly defensive minded manager when he starts his India stint. A closer look at his preferred formations would give a clear indication of what could be his preferred formation on Wednesday.

4-3-3 defending, 5-3-2, 5-4-1, 4-4-2 double 6, 4-4-2 diamond, 4-3-1-2, 4-3-3 defending, 3-4-2-1. These are the formations he had resorted to previously and regardless of his insistence on playing attacking football in the press conference, he is expected to start with a rigid formation to check how deep the waters are against Curacao.

Curacao have scored 23 goals in their last five matches and India would need to survive the first wave of attack to inflict any kind of blow, which is likely possible from set-pieces. Keeping that in mind here is the starting eleven Stimac could field.


Gurpreet Singh Sandhu would undoubtedly start between the sticks. If Stimac’s plan is to stop Curacao’s free-flowing attack, then he is leaving them with the outlet of scoring from set-pieces and Sandhu could easily claim to have the safest pair of hands in such situations. While Amrinder Singh was a better shot-stopper in the recently concluded ISL season, Sandhu edges past him in the overall scheme of things.

The centre half pairing should be Sandesh Jhingan and Rahul Bheke. Now, many have preferred debutant Adil Khan partnering Jhingan at the back but Bheke has shown better game reading abilities with Bengaluru FC and has a better pace to backtrack than the FC Pune City man. Adil is more of a destroyer and if India are relying more on their fast wingers, then they would be needing ball-playing defenders over anything.

The exclusion of Nishu Kumar from the squad pretty much clarified that Stimac didn’t need wing backs who could help his forwards but defenders who would hold the line under extreme pressure. Hence, Subhasish Bose is pretty perfect for the role as we have seen him in Mumbai City FC. While Pritam Kotal could be uber adventurous from time to time, India are likely to prefer the right wing for attacking.


A three-man midfield is ideal for any manager jumping in the dark and Pronay Halder and Adil should be the defensive duo. Their playing style pretty much makes them a good cushion for the Indian defence and at the same time, their aerial abilities stop the long ball threats from Curacao.

Anirudh Thapa would be India’s attacking outlet from the midfield and given his recent form in Indian colours as well as for Chennaiyin FC. However, for all of the youngster’s creating and scoring abilities, he is not the man who could bring the ball out of congested areas. Unfortunately, India don’t really have a player who could do that. Sahal Abdul Samad could be that man in future but as far as the present is concerned, he should be more of an impact player from the bench.


The top three are expected to be Sunil Chhetri, Balwant Singh, and Udanta Singh. India will bring on Michael Soosairaj or Jackichand Singh as and when needed but given their offensive inclinations, they are very unlikely to start. Chhetri would be starting on the left as he does his defensive job quite well with Balwant starting centrally for his physical attributes. Udanta Singh will have more attacking responsibilities with Kotal supporting him.


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