The Indian Football team defeated the I-League XI comfortably by a 2-0 margin. The match was played at the Kishore Bharati Stadium in Kolkata earlier yesterday evening. Captain Sunil Chhetri and Ishan Pandita scored for the Blue Tigers against an all-Indian I-League XI.
Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Ashish Rai, Anwar Ali, Jeakson Singh, Akash Sharma, Ashique Kuruniyan, Puitea, Glan Martins, Udanta Singh, Anirudh Thapa, Sunil Chhetri.
Bhaskar Roy, Mohammad Salah, Asheer Akhtar, Gurmukh Singh, Lalchungnunga, Konsam Phalguni Singh, Sweden Fernandes, Maheson Singh, Jijo, Faisal Ali, Ranjeet Singh Pandre.
Team chemistry the key
The Indian Football team has been in camps for the past few weeks and that chemistry was well visible on the pitch today. Coach Igor Stimac kept almost an identical starting 11 to the team which took on ATK Mohun Bagan a few days back. The Croatian made two changes, one each in attack and the midfield. Puitea replaced Brandon in the heart of the midfield whereas Ashique Kuruniyan got the nod ahead of VP Suhair.
I-League XI on the other hand clearly had an uphill task on its hands. All players belonged to different clubs and clearly, they had a hard time finding the rhythm. Players from ATK Mohun Bagan and Gokulam Kerala missed out to be a part of the national team and the I-League XI respectively. Those teams face each other in the AFC Cup on 18th May at Salt Lake.
Both teams had a cagy start to the game, as the first half ended 0-0. However, things changed in the second half. Coach Stimac brought in youngsters like Ishan Pandita on the pitch as substitutions.
As mentioned earlier, the game ended 0-0 at half time. However, the deadlock was broken in the second half. At around the hour mark, Sunil Chhetri scored the first goal for India. Towards the end of the game, Ishan Pandita scored the second, thus doubling India’s lead.
Reflection on the match
This match was mainly a preparatory measure for the national team. The Blue Tigers’ primary target now is to qualify for the AFC Asian cup. Thus, they are currently playing a string of friendly matches as a part of the preparations. Igor Stimac also tried out various combinations during today’s game. But, he mostly kept the defensive line intact.
The friendlies also provide valuable on-field time for players who are devoid of action since the international friendlies in March. The Men in Blue will further face the Santosh Trophy All-Stars in a friendly before flying to Doha.