Preview: India look to win against Bangladesh and displace Afghanistan in third place
India will be looking for nothing less than a win when they take on Bangladesh in their 2022 FIFA World Cup and 2023 AFC Asian Cup qualifier at the Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium in Doha on Monday night.
The last time the Indians played Bangladesh in October 2019 -- in what was the first match between them in Group E -- they avoided, at the iconic Salt Lake Stadium, what could have been an extremely embarrassing defeat for them, thanks to an Adil Khan header two minutes from time.
Adil’s goal salvaged a point for the Blue Tigers after a 1-1 draw in Kolkata but now they can’t afford to have another night like that. They are already out of contention for the 2022 FIFA World Cup and in order to qualify for the third round of the 2023 AFC Asian Cup, they – currently fourth with three points from six games -- will have to finish third in the group and they know very well that time is running out.
In the match against Asian champions Qatar on Thursday night, Igor Stimac’s men fought bravely but couldn’t avoid a 1-0 defeat brought on by an Abdelaziz Hatem strike in the 33rd minute. For the large part of the match, the Indians played with 10 men after right-back Rahul Bheke received a red card, and if truth be told, that had a huge bearing on the outcome of the contest.
India’s midfield struggled heavily against Qatar and they will hope to have a much better performance against Bangladesh. They need to feed the attackers up front quite frequently. Also, the strikers need to up their game. In the international arena scoring opportunities come few and far between and they will have to pounce on them as and when they present themselves. Manvir Singh had a couple of good chances against Qatar but he could not capitalise on them to the great dismay for Indian fans.
Apart from improvement in the final third, India will hope Gurpreet Singh Sandhu and the backline continue the good work that they started against Qatar. If not for Gurpreet’s nine brilliant saves, the Qataris could have scored a few more goals. It will be interesting to see who Stimac brings in to replace the suspended Bheke. From all appearances, Pritam Kotal could be asked to play as right-back and Adil, in light of his good performance against Bangladesh in 2019, could fit in as centre-back.
“The match against Bangladesh is a big game for our fans and the team. We are going to approach the game to win it without meaning any disrespect to our opponents. Our aim has stayed the same since the beginning – to qualify for AFC Asian Cup China 2023,” Stimac made his intention clear at the pre-match press conference.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh scored a late goal against Afghanistan in their last game on Thursday to share the points. Topu Barman’s strike in the 84th minute cancelled out Amiruddin Mohammad Anwar Sharifi’s strike early in the second half. Jamie Day’s men currently occupy the fifth and last place in the group and will look to upset India and leapfrog them into the fourth place.
“I am very pleased with the performance against Afghanistan. The players did very well on the field, and worked extremely hard. It reflects the attitude which this team possesses – to come back and get back into the game,” Bangladesh head coach Day told the AIFF Media Team ahead of the match.
Bangladesh captain Jamal Bhuyan sounded confident too heading into the game against their neighbours. “It will be intense – with a lot of battles. It’s a beautiful match to be a part of. Last time in Kolkata we were disappointed not to get the 3 points as India scored very late in the game. We have that hunger in us, and we know we can do some damage.
“The confidence in our team is good at the moment. We had our chances to win against Afghanistan. We take that confidence with us into the India game,” he said.
GOALKEEPERS: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Amrinder Singh, Dheeraj Singh
DEFENDERS: Pritam Kotal, Rahul Bheke, Narender Gahlot, Chinglensana Singh, Sandesh Jhingan, Adil Khan, Akash Mishra, Subhasish Bose
MIDFIELDERS: Udanta Singh, Brandon Fernandes, Liston Colaco, Rowllin Borges, Glan Martins, Anirudh Thapa, Pronay Halder, Suresh Wangjam, Lalengmawia, Sahal Abdul Samad, Mohammed Yasir, Lallianzuala Chhangte, Bipin Singh, Ashique Kuruniyan
FORWARDS: Ishan Pandita, Sunil Chhetri, Manvir Singh.
Kick-off time: 07:30 pm IST
Live telecast: Star Sports Network
Streaming: Disney+ Hotstar and JioTV