In preparation for the 2019 AFC Asian Cup, India face their mighty neighbours China at the Suzhou Olympic Sports Centre Stadium in Suzhou City, Jiangsu province on Saturday in a friendly.
India have not won a single match out of the 17, while China have won on 12 occasions. Five matches have ended in draws. The senior teams of India and China last played in the 1997 Nehru Cup in Kochi which the ‘Red Dragons’ won 2-1.
China is ranked at 76th. They walk in as overwhelming favourites. But India, under Stephen Constantine, have made great strides in the recent past and are now ranked at 97th. India made its way into Asia’s flagship tournament for the first time since 1984 through the qualifying rounds.
Where can you watch the match?
The Star Sports Network have the exclusive rights to broadcast all Indian national team games.
India TV channels – Star Sports 3 & 2/2 HD
Online streams – Hotstar and Jio TV
The match will start at 5:05 PM IST (GMT +5:30) on Saturday, 13th October.
Goalkeepers – Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Amrinder Singh, Karanjit Singh
Defenders – Pritam Kotal, Sarthak Golui, Sandesh Jhingan, Anas Edathodika, Salam Ranjan Singh, Subhasish Bose, Narayan Das
Midfielders – Udanta Singh, Nikhil Poojary, Pronay Halder, Rowllin Borges, Anirudh Thapa, Vinit Rai, Halicharan Narzary, Ashique Kuruniyan
Forwards – Sunil Chhetri, Jeje Lalpekhlua, Sumeet Passi, Farukh Choudhary
Predicted XI :
Gurpreet Singh Sandhu
Pritam Kotal – Sandesh Jhingan – Anas Edathodika – Subhasish Bose
Rowllin Borges – Pronay Halder
Udanta Singh – Sunil Chhetri – Halicharan Narzary
Goalkeepers – Zeng Cheng, Yan Junling, Zhang Lu
Defenders – Yu Hai, Feng Xiaoting, Li Xuepeng, Yu Yang, Deng Hanwen, Liu Yiming, Wang Tong
Midfielders – Zheng Zhi, Zhao Xuri, Yu Hanchao, Wu Xi, Fan Xiaodong, He Chao, Chi Zhongguo, Mirahmetjan, Jin Jingdao, Zhang Xiuwei
Forwards – Gao Lin, Wu Lei, Xiao Zhi, Yu Dabao
Predicted XI :
Wang Tong – Yu Yang – Feng Xiaoting – Li Xuepeng
Wu Xi – Zhao Xuri – Jin Jingdao
Gao Lin – Yu Dabao – Wu Lei
Marcelo Lippi led his native Italy to the 2006 FIFA World Cup title. However, his stint as head coach of the People’s Republic of China team hasn’t been smooth sailing. He has won only a third of the matches. But the former Guangzhou Evergrande manager has been trusted to lead the Dragons till the Asian Cup at least.
The immediate concern surrounding the team is the sheer lack of goals. They lost to Qatar 1-0 and were held goalless by Bahrain who are India’s Group A opponents in the Asian Cup.
Forward Yu Dabao has earned a recall to the team. He will be expected to help out 32-year-old Gao Lin. His last goal from open play in national colours came in December 2014. Wu Lei will be deployed on the left flank. He will look to continue his impressive form of late which has seen him notch up 23 goals and 8 assists from 24 outings in the 2018 Chinese Super League (CSL). Zhao Xuri will take up the central role in midfield. Lippi is not expected to make many changes in defence. However, Shanghai SIPG custodian Yan Junling seems to have displaced Zheng Cheng as the numero uno.
Stephen Constantine is expected to stick to a settled squad and is not expected to make a lot of changes.
Subhasish Bose, the U23 national team captain, has an edge over Narayan Das whose form has been on and off over the year. He should start at left-back. Constantine might be tempted to play Rowllin Borges ahead of Anirudh Thapa alongside Pronay Halder, given their contrasting Indian Super League (ISL) form. Skipper Sunil Chhetri is expected to play behind Jeje who is the focal point. The Mizoram striker will be looking to cement his place in the first XI with the Asian Cup fast approaching. Constantine should use all his six substitutes which should see the likes of Nikhil Poojary, Ashique Kuruniyan and Salam Ranjan Singh all get vital minutes on the pitch in the run up to the Asian Cup.
As the Blue Tigers push on for recognition in the continent, there would be no better way to test themselves against a nation in the upper echelons of Asia.
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