India face three decisive games in the space of a fortnight
Igor Stimac’s Blue Tigers are set to take the field this Thursday as action resumes in Group E of the second round of the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers 2022. With five games played so far, India find themselves in fourth place in the group with three points.
However, with a place in the third round of the AFC Asian Cup China 2023 Qualifiers up for grabs, the young Indian side, already training in Qatar, will be full of belief as they look to make the nation proud.
The journey so far
With five rounds done, India have three points in their kitty after playing out draws with Bangladesh (1-1), Afghanistan (1-1) and Qatar (0-0) earlier in the second round. They lost twice to Oman in the qualifiers, but did hold the middle-east side to a 1-1 draw in the international friendly held in Dubai back in March.
Stimac, the Indian team Head Coach, was impressed with a large bunch of exciting youngsters that lit up the stage in the 2020-21 season of the Indian Super League. So much so, that the Croatian coach handed debuts to as many as 11 youngsters in the senior side, in friendlies against UAE and Oman back in March.
He is expected to field an experienced side but will be in search of the right balance to get some crucial results in the remaining group stage games. Here is the 28-man squad Stimac has named for these games:
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, Apuia, Abdul Sahal, Mohammad Yasir, Lallianzuala Chhangte, Bipin Singh, Ashique Kuruniyan.
Forwards: Manvir Singh, Sunil Chhetri, Ishan Pandita.
03/06 – India vs Qatar (KO – 10:30pm IST)
07/06 – Bangladesh vs India (KO – 7:30 pm IST)
15/06 – India vs Afghanistan (KO – 7:30 pm IST)
All three games will be played at the Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium in Doha, Qatar.
💪 A 𝗯𝗶𝗴 few weeks ahead for the #BlueTigers 🐯 in Doha!
The 🇮🇳 National Team takes on Qatar, Bangladesh and Afghanistan in the second round of the #WCQ 🏆.
— Hyderabad FC (@HydFCOfficial) June 1, 2021
First Up: Qatar
India pulled off a massive result against Qatar in the first-leg when they held the reigning Asian Champions to a goalless draw on Matchday 2 at the same venue in September 2019. Back then, HFC’s Nikhil Poojary and Adil Khan started the game in defence for the Blue Tigers who put on a stern defensive display. While this will be a “home” game for India, it will be Qatar will enjoy a slight advantage having played all the home games at the Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium. In fact, apart from the stalemate against India, Qatar have bagged three wins at the venue scoring 13 goals and conceding just one. However, Stimac’s men will be confident going into the Thursday-night clash knowing they are the only team to have taken points off Qatar who are overwhelming favourites to win the group.
Where to Watch
The FIFA World Cup Qualifiers will be telecasted live on the STAR network. The Qualifiers will also be available to stream on Disney+ Hotstar and Jio TV.