With Igor Stimac already assuring that he would want to experiment the remaining players during India’s third-placed game against Thailand, India’s starting line-up would be the most interesting thing of the match on Saturday. Here’s what we think could be India’s field starting lineup.
Changing the custodian wouldn’t necessarily be a wise move for the manager even if he is experimenting with all the 23 players in his setup. With India playing the Intercontinental Cup as well as the World Cup qualifiers in the coming months, the quintessential thing for Stimac would be the perfect communication between Gurpreet Singh Sandhu and the back four.
It is difficult to expect a different back four in the match against Thailand, simply because Stimac’s final 23-man squad had only five defenders including FC Pune City midfielder Adil Khan. And while many have been of the opinion that Adil could be a proper centre-half alongside Jhingan, it is difficult for the midfielder to take up that role in the high line setup that Stimac is envisioning.
The weakest link at the back in India’s last game was their full-backs and it was more to do with the acres of gaps left by the midfield of Sahal Abdul Samad and Pronay Halder. However, Stimac successfully attended to that in the second half and India aren’t expected to be susceptible to similar counter-attacks in this game.
We are expecting a three-man midfield yet again this time, but hoping it to change it to a 4-1-2-3 as the game progresses. Though not initially, Adil has played the role of a defensive midfielder quite well in the Pune setup, and could actually be a good option in aerial duels. More than that, he could be a cushion for the defence as a back three, when one of the full backs go up in support of the winger.
Apart from the holding midfielder, Sahal Abdul Samad and Anirudh Thapa should have the creative duties. With the qualities that Sahal showed in the last match, one can only imagine how good he can be when he plays alongside a player with a similar mindset but more experience. India’s counter-attacks would be more lethal than ever.
Balwant Singh remains the sole centre forward apart from Sunil Chhetri and we don’t think the former ATK and Mumbai City FC forward would start tomorrow, the simple reason being his inability to hold the ball. Chhetri would be the better option in that role any day for India.
On the wings should be Michael Soosairaj and Jackichand Singh. While Soosairaj hardly got 30 minutes under his belt in the last match, Jackichand was left unsubbed from the bench. With a more synced eleven this time, the wingers would definitely see more supplies in the attacking third.
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