The Sunil Chhetri-led Indian football team would take Bangladesh lightly at their own peril when the teams face off in the combined qualifiers for the World Cup 2022 and Asian Cup 2023, here on Monday.
The Igor Stimac-coached India did well to concede just one goal against Asian champions Qatar in the opening match of the combined tournament on June 3, and it’s unlikely they will let their guard down against Bangladesh who are ranked 186th in the world, far below India’s 105th ranking.
While India are out of contention in the race for the 2022 World Cup, their focus is on the Asian Cup 2023, where they have a chance to qualify, with another game against Afghanistan coming up on June 15 in Doha.
On the eve of the match against Bangladesh, striker Manvir Singh said: “Bangladesh are a very compact side. In Kolkata the last time we played, they were very difficult to break down. They press very hard and there’s always support for each other. It will be a very tough match for us.”
Defender Pritam Kotal added: “People often make the mistake of judging Bangladesh as a team on the basis of their FIFA ranking. We are aware of the quality in their side. Football in Bangladesh has always had a tradition of being very comfortable with the ball. They are a very good technical side. We have huge respect for them.”
Top India midfielder Brandon Fernandes said that, it is extremely crucial for the team to stick together against a team like Bangladesh.
“The camaraderie in the squad is exceptional. We are backing each other up as we gear up for the next match. From my experience of our last match in Kolkata, it will be very intense match. We need to capitalise on our chances.”
India: (Goalkeepers) Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Amrinder Singh, Dheeraj Singh; (Defenders) Pritam Kotal, Rahul Bheke, Narender Gehlot, Chinglensana Singh, Sandesh Jhingan, Adil Khan, Akash Mishra, Subhashish Bose; (Midfielders) Udanta Singh, Brandon Fernandes, Liston Colaco, Rowllin Borges, Glan Martins, Anirudh Thapa, Pronoy Halder, Suresh Singh, Lalengmawia Ralte, Abdul Sahal, Yasir Mohammad, Lallianzuala Chhangte, Bipin Singh, Ashique Kuruniyan; (Forwards) Ishan Pandita, Sunil Chhetri, Manvir Singh.
Bangladesh: (Goalkeepers) Anisur Rahman Zico, Russel Mahmud Liton, Shahidul Yousuf Sohel; (Defenders) Yeasin Arafat, Rahmat Mia, Topu Barman, Rimon Hossain, Mehedi Hasan Mithu, Tariq Kazi, Habibur Rahman Sohag, Riyadul Hasan Rafi, Mohammad Emon; (Midfilders) Jamal Bhuyan (Capt) Masuk Mia Jony, Biplu Ahmed, Sohel Rana, Mohammad Abdullah, Manik Hossain Molla, Rakib Hossain; (Forwards) Motin Mia, Mehedi Hasan Royal, Sumon Reza, Mohammad Jewel, Mohammad Ibrahim, Mahbubur Rahman Sufil.
Kick-off time: 7.30 p.m. (IST), June 7.