Euro 2020 Special
 

How Team India Fared in the Two International Friendlies?

In a much-anticipated move of having back-to-back international friendlies against two of the top sides in Asia – Oman and the United Arab Emirates, the Indian national football team was back in action after a long wait of 492 days.

The team selected by coach Igor Stimac was dominated by the four clubs which made it to the recently concluded Hero Indian Super League playoffs. The main focus on these international friendlies was to test the new players who were making it to the Indian camp for the first time and emphasis was on possession-based football with the ability to play comfortably from the back. The team management would be somewhat satisfied with what they saw in these two high-quality games but the results would be a bit concerning for them at the same time.

Let’s look at the two international friendlies in-depth one by one.

 

OMAN 1-1 INDIA

Coach Igor Stimac handed 10 Indians their debut ahead of this match and it became a landmark moment in Indian football as never before so many debutants have featured in one game. Sandesh Jhingan was given the responsibility of leading the side against Oman and the team went with an aggressive 4-3-3 system.

The first half was a bit of a stretch for the Blue Tigers, as they struggled to get out of their own half and surrendered possession quite cheaply to the opposition. Without the ball, they often fell back into a low block with a very deep defensive line and did not exert much pressure on the ball. Manvir Singh upfront was isolated for most of the half and the wingers weren’t allowed to trouble the opposition defence with pace. India’s goalkeeper Amrinder Singh had some great saves and even saved a crucial penalty but his own goal in the 42nd minute meant that India went into the halftime 1-0 down.

The second half was much better by the Indian team. Stimac made some shrewd changes in the midfield which saw the introduction of Apuia, Rayier Fernandes and Mohammed Yasir. The team was willing to press high up the pitch and now the midfield balance looked much better. Bipin Singh on debut delivered a delicious cross for Manvir in the middle and the striker levelled the score for his team. This was India’s first goal from open play after a gap of 614 minutes and eight games. The team were better than Oman in the second half and created more chances after the goal. The match finished 1-1, and it seemed whatever Igor Stimac said in the dressing room at half time worked.

 

UAE 6-0 INDIA

The thing to understand before this match was that coach Igor Stimac had a big squad at his disposal and he wanted to try out almost every individual who was good enough to be named in the squad. This match was a perfect opportunity for trying out new players in the system who haven’t had a taste of international football and that’s what Stimac did. He named a different lineup for this match with only three players kept their spot from the previous game against Oman.

The backline wasn’t in sync with each other throughout the match and struggled to cope up with the pace with which UAE played with. Going forward the team didn’t create many chances and most of the attacks were stifled pretty early by the UAE midfielders. They netted two goals in the first half and four more in the second. This was India’s heaviest defeat since 2010 when Kuwait humbled the Blue Tigers 9-1 in a friendly match. The thing to remember is that UAE is ranked 74 in the FIFA world rankings whereas India stands on 104.

When you go past 100, the quality of teams go way higher and that is something India needs to adapt against. More games against such opponents would help them bridge the gap.

 

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