Know your opponents: Bahrain
India will be up against Bahrain in their international friendly match at the Madinet Hamad Stadium in Hamad Town, Bahrain, on Wednesday. The matches are scheduled as part of preparations for the AFC Asian Cup third round qualifiers in June, later this year.
Ahead of the all-important match, let us get a brief understanding of the opponents:
Controlled by the Bahrain Football Association, the national team of the country joined FIFA in 1966. They have taken the hard road and worked their way up the ladder to establish themselves as one of the heavyweights in Asian football. The hardships however did not transpire into a World Cup qualification even though they were within sniffing distance a couple of times.
The fourth place finish in the 2004 AFC Asian Cup still remains their biggest achievement, alongside the WAFF Championship and Arabian Gulf Cup triumph in 2019. Currently ranked at the 89th spot as the official listings, the hosts will be heavily backed to come up with flying colours in the upcoming friendlies.
Last 5 matches - LWLDL
The Bahrain national team have won just one out of their last five matches, which was a 4-2 win over Kyrgyzstan in a friendly. They played out a 0-0 draw against Iraq in the FIFA Arab Cup and lost the remaining three matches to New Zealand (friendly), Qatar and Oman (FIFA Arab Cup) respectively.
Head to Head
Bahrain faced off with their Asian rivals India six times, with the first meeting dating back to 1982. In a total of six head-to-head matches between these two teams, Bahrain have won five, while the spoils were shared in the remaining occasion. Incidentally, it was in the first ever meeting, 40 years that India managed to remain unbeaten in these fixtures, having lost all the remaining matches since then.
Bahrain usually adopts a 4-3-3 formation, with the intensity of attack likely to help them against a lower ranked opponent. There’s no experimenting with the back-four, with a defensive midfielder to shield the troop. On the other hand, two midfielders are given a free role behind the respective wingers on either side and a lone striker to take charge of finishing the move.
The attacking midfielder has been in the thick of things for the national side in the recent past. For instance, in the last 10 matches for Bahrain, the footballer has scored seven times and assisted on three occasions, having contributed to at least one goal in each of the six matches won them in the same time frame. With the quality he possesses, Indian defenders will have a hard time keeping him quiet on the left flank.
One of the most experienced players in the squad, Waleed Al-Hayam is a rock-solid defender who hardly lets the ball pass through. Having earned his first national call-up back in 2011, the centre back has been a mainstay in the setup since then. Al-Hayam helped his team register five clean sheets in their last 10 matches. The footballer with 75 appearances for Bahrain will be a tough nut to crack in the upcoming game.
Fixture: Bahrain vs India
Date: March 23, 2022
Time: 9:30 PM (IST)
Venue: Madinet Hamad Stadium in Hamad Town, Bahrain