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WC qualifiers: India may alter playing style against Bangladesh

Source: PTI
June 06, 2021 22:59 IST
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A winless India must beat Bangladesh on Monday if they want to jump to third spot in Group E standings and keep themselves afloat for a direct berth in the Asian Cup third qualifying round.

Sunil Chhetri and his teammates at a team training session in Doha on Sunday 

IMAGE: Sunil Chhetri and his teammates at a team training session in Doha on Sunday. Photograph: Indian Football Team/Twitter

Desperately needing a win in their joint World Cup and Asian Cup qualifiers, India head coach Igor Stimac on Sunday hinted a change of strategy from defensive to offensive in the match against Bangladesh in Doha on Monday.

A winless India must beat Bangladesh on Monday if they want to jump to third spot in Group E standings and keep themselves afloat for a direct berth in the Asian Cup third qualifying round.

 

Otherwise, they will have to play in the qualifying play-off round of the continental showpiece. India are already out of contention for a World Cup berth.

"It's a big game for our fans and team. We're going to approach the game to win it without any disrespect to our opponents. Our aim has stayed the same since the beginning – to qualify for the AFC Asian Cup,” Stimac said at the pre-match conference.

"We are going to try to show some composure different from that of Qatar or Oman match. It's up to us whether we can handle the match better in regards to ball possession, ball movement, speed and accuracy of passing and the eventual execution.”

India were beaten 0-1 by Asian champions Qatar on Thursday. They were left to defend throughout the match with the Qataris attacking in waves.

Stimac described Bangladesh as a “team with great fighting spirit” that puts in “quality work” on the pitch. The last time the two teams met in the first leg at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata in October 2019, the match ended 1-1.

"In the football world, I would say they are very annoying teamz who disturb the opposition with so much defensive work, quality work -- with blocks -- quite similar to what we did against Qatar,” Stimac said.

"At times you need to do everything possible to irritate the rival team, to annoy them, to cut their passing. Bangladesh are fighting it for every point in the group, and whatever they do, they do it as a team.”

India are ranked 105th in the FIFA chart as against 184th of Bangladesh.

Stimac conceded that Bangladesh players have the advantage of being much more competitively fit.

"Bangladesh were also in a similar situation to us as far as preparation is concerned. But they have the advantage of their players being much more competitively fit as their season ended in second week of May in comparison to most of our players not having any competitive football since February.”

Senior player Sandesh Jhingan said that the team would aim to carry forward the “character” displayed against Qatar into the match against Bangladesh.

“The match against Qatar was not easy. But we displayed a certain character and arrogance in the 90 minutes against the Asian champions. We aim to do great in our second game. We will give our best and try to make everyone proud,” he said.

India midfielder Thapa rejoins team ahead of Bangladesh match

India midfielder Anirudh Thapa, who tested positive for COVID-19 a few days back, rejoined the team on Sunday after being cleared by the organising committee doctor ahead of the World Cup qualifiers match against Bangladesh.

The 23-year-old Thapa had tested positive for COVID-19 on June 3 and had been under quarantine in a separate room in the team hotel here since then.

"Anirudh Thapa who was in isolation on advice of LOC medical team since June 3 has been cleared by the LOC Doctor to rejoin the team after subsequent tests, and being under observation," the All India Football Federation said in on its Twitter handle.

Thapa had missed India's match against Asian champions Qatar on Thursday which they lost 0-1 in the joint World Cup and Asian Cup qualifiers.

He had featured in the Indian team that lost 0-6 to the UAE in the international friendly in March.

Earlier, the AIFF General Secretary Kushal Das had said that Thapa has been kept in isolation after testing positive for the virus. 

"Yes, Anirudh Thapa tested positive (for COVID-19) and he is isolated (from other team members)," Das told PTI on Saturday.

The Chennaiyin FC player has played more than 20 matches for India.

India are already out of contention for a World Cup berth but remain in the reckoning for the 2023 Asian Cup.

With three points from six matches, a winless India are at fourth spot in the Group E standings. They play Afghanistan on June 15 in their last match after the Bangladesh game on Monday.

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