India face Kyrgyz Republic in battle for top spot in Group A

India will be looking to cement top spot in Group A of the 2019 AFC Asian Cup qualifiers when they take on Kyrgyz Republic away at the Dolen Omurzakov 'Spartak' Stadium in Bishkek on Tuesday. Both teams have already qualified for the final tournament next year with the hosts currently in second spot with 10 points from five games – three points behind group leaders India. Kyrgyz Republic will be eyeing revenge against the Blue Tigers, who beat them 1-0 earlier in the qualifying campaign.

The home side know a win by a two-goal margin shall be enough for them to secure top spot in the group and they will also be buoyed by the fact that India’s all-time leading goal-scorer and captain Sunil Chhetri will miss the game due to yellow card accumulation. Besides Chhetri other notable absentees from the squad include injured midfielders Eugeneson Lyngdoh and Jackichand Singh as well as the unavailable Pritam Kotal and Seityasen Singh.

However, India still possess a strong side capable of overcoming Kyrgyz Republic away from home with the likes of Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Amrinder Singh and Vishal Kaith, all vying for a starting berth between the sticks. At the back, Jamshedpur FC’s Anas Edathodika and Kerala Blasters FC’s Sandesh Jhingan, are set to resume their partnership in the heart of defence.

Meanwhile, the likes of Hero ISL 2017-18 winner Jerry Lalrinzuala, Narayan Das, Subhasish Bose and the Emerging Player of the League from the recently concluded season Lalruatthara, will all be competing to start in the full-back slots. As far as the midfield is concerned, Chennaiyin FC’s title-winning central duo of Anirudh Thapa and Dhanpal Ganesh, are both a part of national coach Stephen Constantine’s squad. Constantine also selected the highest domestic assists provider from Hero ISL 2017-18 Udanta Singh along with Jamshedpur’s Bikash Jairu and NorthEast United FC midfielders Rowllin Borges and Halicharan Narzary.

Up front, it will be Mizo Sniper Jeje Lalpekhlua and Mumbai City FC’s Balwant Singh, who’ll be entrusted to spearhead the attack in the absence of Chhetri. NorthEast’s Seiminlen Doungel, who netted the first hat-trick by a domestic talent in Hero ISL 2017-18 is also a part of the squad. Alan Deroy, Hitesh Sharma and Manvir Singh are the other attacking talents in the Indian camp. With a good blend of youth and experience in the team, Constantine will be hoping to make it four wins for India in as many meetings against Kyrgyz Republic on Tuesday as they look to extend their 13-match unbeaten run.

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