With all the expectations and excitement surrounding the Indian football team at the moment, Sunil Chhetri & Co. will be taking to the historical pitch of the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata for the first time in eight years for their FIFA World Cup 2022 qualifying tie against Bangladesh.
Having held Qatar to a goalless draw, the Igor Stimac-coached side will be high on confidence and raring to grab their first win of the qualifiers. Bangladesh, on the other hand, are yet to register a point but come to the Mecca of Indian football on the back of a spirited performance against Qatar which they lost 0-2.
— Indian Football Team (@IndianFootball) October 13, 2019
Date: October 15, 2019.
Time: 7:30 PM.
Venue: Salt Lake Stadium, Kolkata.
India team preview
Before producing their best football in recent times in Doha, India had played a dominating first-half against Oman to lead 1-0 on their way to the tunnel at the break. A slight lack in concentration in the last quarter of the game saw them conceding two goals to eventually lose the match 1-2.
But their enthusiastic outing was enough for the millions of football fans in the country to think about the unthinkable. The Blue Tigers did not disappoint in their next outing against Qatar as they got their names besides teams like Brazil and Argentina for not conceding a goal against the Asian champions in 2019.
Without the service of Chhetri, the team tugged themselves out of his shadow to play defensive football of the highest standards. Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, with his meteoric presence under the woods, was undisputed and turned out to be the difference between both the teams as he saved one shot after the another by the Qatari attackers.
However, with Chhetri back in contention for the match against Bangladesh, Stimac would be heaving a sigh of relief given his team requires a win to stay in contention for the next round’s qualification. Rowllin Borges, though, would be missing the action after being suspended for his two yellow cards in the previous games. Bengaluru FC duo of Udanta Singh and Ashique Kuruniyan could form the frontline alongside the captain.
Without the service of the main centreback, old horse Anas Edathodika, in all likelihood, will pair with Adil Khan to form the heart of the Indian defence. His decision to come out of retirement has now acted as a blessing in disguise for the team, especially with Jhingan’s injury. Sahal Abdul Samad is expected to be the bridge between the defenders and the forwards.
Bangladesh team preview
While many expected an out-and-out onslaught by Qatar, the Asian minnows had put up a rejuvenated display to concede not more than two goals. The performance should act as an impetus to the Bangladeshi players before their much-important game against the neighbours.
In their tournament-opener, they lost to Afghanistan by the narrowest margin and remain the only team in the group to have not won a single match. However, the Jamie Day-led side look to have their minds in the right space after beating Bhutan 2-0 in a friendly before arriving in Kolkata.
The Red and Green brigade would likely be going with their preferred formation of 4-4-2 with skipper Jamal Bhuyan playing the important role of the central midfielder. Bhuyan will have his task cut out to help the two centrebacks Yeasin Khan and Riyadul Hasan while creating balls at the same time for the front-liners. Day is expected to field Nabib Jibon as the lone striker.
Probable starting XI
Gurpreet Singh Sandhu (GK), Anas Edathodika, Adil Khan, Pritam Kotal, Mandar Rao Desai, Anirudh Thapa, Vinit Rai, Udanta Singh, Ashique Kuruniyan, Sahal Abdul Samad, Sunil Chhetri (C).
Ashraful Islam Rana (GK), Yeasin Khan, Riyadul Hasan, Rahmat Miya, Raihan Hasan, Jamal Bhuyan (C), Sohel Rana, Mohammad Ibrahim, Biplu Ahmed, Saad Uddin, Nabib Newaj Jibon.