The Indian football team ended their barren spell of 7332 days of not being able to register a win in the World Cup Qualifiers on Monday when they faced Bangladesh at the Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium in Doha!
Captain Sunil Chhetri stepped up on the occasion and handed India a crucial win, just their second under Croatian head coach Igor Stimac following an 11-match winless run.
In this article, FootballMonk takes a look at the 5 things that we learned post India’s clash against the Bengal Tigers.
5. Stimac’s tactics were spot on
The national team head coach made just three alterations in the starting lineup from the team that started the game against Asian Champions Qatar. Brandon Fernandes, Udanta Singh and Chilengsana Singh replaced Rahul Bheke, Pritam Kotal, and Ashique Kuruniyan respectively as Stimac looked to start with a more offensive setup.
The impact of all the changes was quite visible in India’s tactical approach towards the start of the game and the Blue Tigers’ looked a completely transformed side against their neighbours.
4. Bangladesh are a tough team to break down
As we mentioned earlier, Jamie Day’s side isn’t easy to break down. Bangladesh came in with their typical pragmatic approach of parking the bus for most of the game and tried to catch India on counter-attacks. However, unfortunately for them, they could never capitalise on their breaks. Bangladesh made 17 tackles, 18 interceptions, and 23 clearances in their attempt to halt India’s attacks and they did manage for a long time as well.
They were so solid defensively that it took 79 odd minutes for India to break the deadlock. The Blue Tigers came close on multiple occasions but their neighbours were in no mood to give away a goal so easily which resulted in 9 corner kicks, 13 fouls, and 4 yellow cards, which should have been way more given how Bangladesh’s players started kicking India’s players.
3. Glan Martins and Brandon Fernandes, the midfield marshals of India!
Chhetri scored the winner and won the match for India but it were Glan and Brandon’s contributions that paved the way. Glan Martins played as a number 6 and was extremely good on the ball as well off the ball with Brandon breaking the lines.
Glan and Brandon have the inherited Portuguese technicality, thanks to Goa’s Portuguese culture which was quite visible in their individual gameplay. Their proficiency to quickly react and read the game was what stood out for India.
2. India’s best game under Stimac so far
The Indian National team broke their winless run of 11 matches — their last positive result was the 0-1 win against Thailand back in June 2019. This was only India’s second win under Stimac, it was also the biggest margin win under the former Croatian international. India kept 74% of ball possession, a rare sight under Stimac, and attempted 16 shots at goal in total, 5 of them on target and 6 of them being blocked.
The Blue Tigers were technically more sound overall as a team on the field. The in-behind runs, vertical passes, and wing switches all seemed to be in sync. They attempted 623 passes and completed 517 of them with a phenomenal accuracy rate of 83%.
1. Sunil Chhetri, the man of all occasions
Captain. Leader. Legend.
Sunil Chhetri’s late second-half brace handed India their first win in the 2022 World Cup Qualifiers. These 79th and 92nd-minute strikes saw him overtake Argentinian great Lionel Messi in terms of International goals.
Sunil Chhetri’s brace took him on to 74 international goals and now is just one goal away from entering world football’s all-time Top-10! The 36-year-old sits on the 11th position just behind Hungary’s Sandor Kocsis, Japan’s Kunishige Kamamoto, and Kuwait’s Bashar Abdullah, who all have 75 goals to their name.
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