With the top two spots safely occupied by Qatar and Oman, India were propelled forward with the objective of finishing third to secure an Asia Cup spot. With the first part of the job already accomplished through the 2-0 victory over Bangladesh, the Blue Tigers now face the second part of their plan on Tuesday.
Under normal circumstances, Igor Stimac would require nothing less than a win in the final game of the group. However, under the latest developments unfolding with Afghanistan’s clash against Oman, a draw would be sufficient for India to secure their objective. Afghanistan’s loss keeps them a point behind India on the table.
The Blue Tigers can be expected to lineup in a balanced formation, with focus implied on defensive transitions. 4-2-3-1 would be apt for defensive stability. Chinglesana Singh and Sandesh Jhingan will be the natural starters at CB. Rahul Bheke will return from his suspension, and could start at right-back; Subashish Bose would play as the left-back. In midfield, Glan Martins and Suraj Wangjam Singh would pose as defensive midfielders. Ashique and Udanta would come in handy in counter situations, and could start on the wings. With Chhetri up front, Brandon Fernandes could play as the attacking midfielder.
Although shared points would suffice, Igor Stimac’s side wouldn’t be expected to play for a draw. Though, Afghanistan’s loss does come off as a relaxation for Chhetri and co. Going into the game, they will not be obliged to go all out in search of a goal. This would allow them to hold onto the ball and entice Afghanistan to come out of their deep defensive shape.
Since Anoush Dastgir’s side require nothing less than a win in order to progress, the incentive is bound to test their patience in maintaining a compact defensive shape. This could provide India with plenty of space in attack, and thus secure the result.