India will aim for nothing less than a win when they take on arch-rivals Bangladesh in the ongoing 2022 World Cup Qualifiers, on Monday. The Blue Tigers are yet to register a single win in the ongoing World Cup qualifying campaign, having lost three and sharing points on as many occasions.
Even though the 0-1 result was not inspiring enough to create a ripple effect on football fans across the country, it did catch the attention of keen followers. Restricting the mighty Qatar side to 0-1 with 10-men down was by no means an ordinary feat, but the score-line did flatter to decieve. Qatar’s 38 shots taken throughout the match against India’s testifies the lopsidedness of the affair. However, avoiding lethal damage to the scoreline means that Igor Stimac’s men would take the result as a positive ahead of the remaining matches.
Historically, India have been a class apart from Bangladesh, with their last defeat at the hands of their arch-rivals coming way back in 1999. However, the vulnerability shown by the Blue Tigers in the previous encounter at home in front of a packed Salt Lake Stadium might not evoke happy memories. Sloppy defending, lack of teeth on the attacking front against a semi-organised defence, all summed up to the 1-1 result, with India saving the blushes with a late header from Adil Khan. This time around, the seriousness is astronomical; anything less than a win would be unpardonable.
Still stuck at the fourth position in the points table of Group E, India desperately need two wins from as many matches to stay in contention for the 2023 AFC Asian Cup, given that their hopes for a World Cup berth are already done and dusted. Sunil Chhetri and Co are winless in the ongoing WCQ, which just testifies why logging full points are required now more than ever. Even though India have won three of their last five H2H matches against Bangladesh, their previous triumph was during the 2009 SAFF Championship.
Igor Stimac’s policy to take the defensive route in the previous match against Qatar was justifiable, but that’s hardly applicable for the upcoming game, which is virtually a make-or-break fixture for India. Sunil Chhetri, on his return to international football, was fielded for just 45 minutes, before Udanta Singh was introduced at his expense. That might be an indication of keeping him fresh for the remaining matches.
Stimac also relied on young guns like Suresh Wangjam in the midfield, while gifted valuable game time to rookies like Lalengmawia, Akash Mishra and Liston Colaco. But a repeat is unlikely as India will go with full strength against Bangladesh on Monday evening, with experienced campaigners like Sahal Abdul Samad and Brandon Fernandes likely to get starts in the midfield. Udanta Singh and Ashique Kuruniyan, meanwhile, are expected to be assigned as the usual suspects in the wings.
The talismanic striker has always risen to the occasion, be it for his club or donning the national jersey. At the ripe age of 36, the country needs Sunil Chhetri to fire once again. The Indian skipper’s last international goal was against Oman in the opening match of the WCQ, however, the Blue Tigers bottled the game after taking the lead. The 2023 AFC Asian Cup could well be his last major tournament, which would act as extra motivation come Monday evening. A couple of wins in as many matches will put them in a great position to qualify for the continental meet, two years from now, in China. For the records, the Bengaluru FC forward has scored two goals in the last three ties against Bangladesh.
Midfielders: Udanta Singh, Brandon Fernandes, Liston Colaco, Rowllin Borges, Glan Martins, Anirudh Thapa, Pronoy Halder, Suresh Singh, Apuia, Abdul Sahal, Yasir Md, Lallianzuala Chhangte, Bipin Singh, Ashique K.
Forwards: Manvir Singh, Sunil Chhetri, Ishan Pandita.
The Asian side finds themselves at the bottom of Group E, having registered just two points out of their six matches, which also includes a draw against India. However, the side cannot expect their neighbours to play with a laid-back attitude as the scenario is quite different now, compared to the last time these two nations met. The 1-1 draw against Afghanistan on Thursday evening would boost their confidence somewhat, especially with them succumbing to a 0-1 loss in the last H2H encounter. With a handful of experienced players in their ranks, English coach Jamie Day is banking on the youngsters to give India a tough time on the pitch, even though a positive result is unlikely.
The Danish-born Bangladeshi midfielder will hold the cards for his nation in the upcoming match. With 43 international caps, the playmaker has played influential roles for his country ever since making his debut back in 2013. Bhuyan featured in the I-League in the previous season, having played 12 matches for Kolkata-based Mohammedan Sporting SC. The skipper also provided the assist in the last H2H match against India, which gave Bangladesh the lead at the stroke of half-time. If Bangladesh are hoping for a fairy-tale upset or even squeeze out a point, Jamal Bhuyan will prove key to their fortunes.
Bangladesh 33-man Squad
Anisur Rahman Zico, Sahidul Alam Sohel, Ashraful Islam Rana, Mitul Marma, Bishwanath Ghosh, Rimon Hossain, Topu Barman, Tariq Raihan Kazi, Rahmat Mia, Riyadul Hasan, Yeasin Arafat, Mehedi Hasan, Mohammad Emon, Razaul Karim, Habibur Rahman Sohag, Mohammad Atikuzzaman, Jamal Bhuiyan (c), Masuk Miah Joni, Sohel Rana, Manik Hossain Molla, Abu Shaeid, Imran Hasan Rimon Foysal Ahmed Fahim, Biplo Ahamed, Mohammad Ibrahim, Saad Uddin, Mohammad Abdullah, Rakib Hossain, Mahbubur Rahman, Matin Miah, Mehadi Hasan Royal, Suman Reza, Mohammad Jewel.
India vs Bangladesh (Match Details)
Match Date: 07-06-2021
Venue: Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium
Time: 7:30 PM IST
Telecast: Star Sports 2/ Star Sports 2 HD, Star Sports 1 Hindi/ Star Sports 1 Hindi HD, Star Sports 3, Star Sports 1 Tamil, Star Sports 1 Telugu, Star Sports 1 Kannada, Star Sports 1 Bangla