In spite of a shaky start to the game against Oman, India staged a fitting comeback by virtue of a splendid header from Manvir Singh from a Bipin Singh cross. Now, Igor Stimac's men will be facing a tougher opponent in the form of UAE at the Zabeel Stadium, in Dubai, this Monday evening.
With 10 footballers making their debut and the team down by 0-1 goal till the 55th minute, India still managed to stage a comeback, share the spoils by the end of the day against Oman. While the own goal conceded is unpardonable, it was more of a hard-earned draw than a missed opportunity to notch up their first-ever win against the Gulf nation. Nevertheless, the match would have given Igor Stimac’s boys loads of confidence ahead of their clash against the UAE, this Monday, with the hosts currently placed 30 places above the Blue Tigers as per the latest FIFA rankings.
Overall, the Indian defenders have shown resistance against the Omani attack quite efficiently, with the likes of Chinglensena Singh, Akash Mishra, and Sandesh Jhinghan in the act. What’s remarkable is the way Indians never had a laid-back attitude and took the offensive route quite a few times in the second half, which eventually led to the goal. With a stiffer challenge lying ahead, Manvir Singh and Co. would be aiming to take their game to a new high and combat the onslaught of the Arab side.
The last time Indians played against UAE was back in the 2019 AFC Asian Cup when the Indians suffered a 0-2 loss in the group stage of the continental event. But, this is a renewed Indian side, with Igor Stimac injecting new talents into the mix, with them determined to prove themselves at the top level. Even though players like Sahal Abdul Samad and Subhabshish Bose will miss out, Stimac boasts of enough arms in the arsenal to fill in the boots.
Bipin Singh has been the most talked-about Indian footballer in the recently-concluded 2020-21 ISL and he deserves the hype, with him playing a pivotal role in Mumbai City FC’s title win. Still basked in the hangover, the speedy winger assisted the only goal in India’s 1-1 draw against Oman a couple of days back, with confidence oozing out in the game. With the UAE a tough side to contend with, India have no option but to play on the counter, Bipin – a player built for the trade, would hold the cards for the visitors.
Forwards: Manvir Singh, Ishan Pandita, Hitesh Sharma, Liston Colaco
In spite of pitted along with the likes of lower-ranked opponents like Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia in Group G of the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers, the UAE is currently at the fourth position on the table with two wins and as many losses in four games. With a group stage exit in the Arabian Gulf Cup, the Bert Van Marwijk-coached side need to amend ways before resuming the World Cup qualifying campaign once again. The last International they played was back in January this year, where they held heavyweights Iraq to a 0-0 draw.
In fact, UAE has been on the rise since the arrival of the Dutch manager, having won three matches, against Saudi Arabia, Dominican Republic and Sri Lanka, while played out a 0-0 draw against Syria before the January tie against Iraq. In all probabilities, they are the outright favourites to claim the bragging rights on Monday evening, playing a team against which they’ve lost just twice, won nine and shared the spoils on three occasions.
The striker has already attained a demigod status in the Arabian country, with him the primary goal-scorer for them in the past decade. 59 goals in 85 matches are not ordinary by any standards, with Ali Mabkhout’s stellar form in the past couple of years just summing up to the occasion. Even in the last meeting between these two sides, the Al-Jazira FC legend scored once and assisted the other en-route to their 2-0 win. Mabkhout is the second-highest goal-scorer so far in the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers, with 6 strikes from three matches. There’s no way India should take him lightly, with the team gearing up for the remaining World Cup qualifiers and a spot in the next round as well as a 2023 AFC Asian Cup berth.
Goalkeepers: Ali Khasif, Khaled Issa, Mohammed Al Shamsi, Fahd Al Dhanhani.
Defenders: Bandar Al-Ahbabi, Shaheen Abdel-Rahman, Walid Abbas, Mahmoud Khamis, Khalifa Al-Hammadi, Hassan Al-Mahrami, Al-Hassan Saleh, Salem Rashid.
Midfielders: Mohamed Al-Attas, Ali Salmeen, Yahya Nader, Abdullah Ramadan, Majed Hassan, Fabio de Lima, Khalfan Mubarak.
Forwards: Khalil Al Hammadi, Tahnoun Al Zaabi, Ali Saleh, Suhail Al Noubi, Ali Mabkhout, Sebastian Tigali, Zayed Al Ameri.
India vs UAE (Match Details)
Match Date: 29-03-2021
Venue: Zabeel Stadium, Dubai.
Time: 8:30 PM IST
Telecast: Indian fans can view the live telecast of the game on Eurosport TV channel, which can also be streamed be streamed on Jio TV.