India gear up for Macau challenge as qualification beckons
India host Macau for their fourth Group A match in the AFC Asian Cup 2019 qualifier at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru on Wednesday. The Blue Tigers know that a win could seal their berth in the tournament with two games to spare. Sitting pretty on top of their group with maximum points from all their fixtures so far, India also have an unblemished defensive record having kept a clean sheet on all three occasions so far.
Stephen Constantine’s men ran out 2-0 winners in the corresponding fixture in Macau last month, thanks to a Balwant Singh double. Also, they are currently on an unbeaten streak of 11 matches which can extend to 12 provided they get a result. A few weeks ago, Constantine announced a list of 28 probables for the fixture, and included a wealth of young talent. Playing at home, he might feel inclined to give a few new names a reckoning for the match.
The Indian players, who were part of the squad against Macau, are included in the team-list for this encounter as well. Which means that Balwant Singh – the hero from last time who was used as a substitute – may get a start. Jeje Lalpekhlua and Robin Singh are the other regular strikers at Constantine’s disposal besides captain Sunil Chhetri. Of late, Sandesh Jhingan has forged a solid partnership at the back with Anas Edathodika, and the two will once again want to form an impregnable backline. The midfield has always been one of the Blue Tigers’ strengths, a reputation that Eugeneson Lyngdoh, Jackichand Singh and Rowllin Borges have helped achieve. Gurpreet Singh Sandhu has been India’s regular first choice custodian for a while, but options in that department are also sorted with the likes of Amrinder Singh and Subrata Paul in contention for the spot.
India had dealt with the away game with minimal hiccups, and are expected to showcase much of the same form at home. That said, they would not want to get complacent, and instead come up with a solid display that could effectively seal their entry into the AFC Asia Cup 2019 tournament.