Analysis of India NT Ahead of the Intercontinental Cup 2018
Hero Intercontinental Cup 2018 is all set to take place in Mumbai from June 1st, which Stephen Constantine is considering as a tournament to check his side ahead of the AFC Asian Cup 2019. This tournament features host nation India and New Zealand, Chinese Taipei and Kenya. Previously, Hero Tri-Nation Cup was played in India last year where St Kitts and Nevis and Mauritius participated. Obviously India won that tournament on a high note. Initially South Africa was expected to participate in this Intercontinental Cup but later pulled out and Kenya replaced South Africa in the tourney. This competition paves way for the English men to try out his combination and find the best XI. Indian national side has been performing well with a FIFA ranking of 97 (as per April 2018 FIFA rankings) and also had an unbeaten run of 12 matches alongside the likes of Germany from June 2016 to November 2017. Recently, India lost against Kyrgyzstan on 27th of March which ended in a score line 2-1. Jeje scored the only goal and that loss ended the unbeaten streak after 12 games.
The 30-men squad for this Intercontinental Cup includes Ashique Kuruniyan, Sanjibam Ghosh and Doungel, who have performed well in the domestic level for their respective clubs. Lalruatthara gets his place in the squad after a fantastic job for Kerala Blasters at the back. Vineet Rai was added lately to the roster after Chennaiyin FC defensive midfielder Dhanapal Ganesh was affected with Typhoid. Alen Deory also grabs a chance after showing some form with Shillong Lajong in I-League. Sunil Chhetri will lead the attack with Jeje as usual for the blues. Sunil Chhetri will also make his 100th appearance for India. Blue Tigers are the favorites to win this tournament.
● Squad Analysis :
○ Goalkeeping :
Gurpreet Singh Sandhu will be the first choice shot-stopper for the Indian side. Sandhu has done a great job for his club Bengaluru FC with winning the Super Cup and claiming a runners-up spot in ISL. The goalie has 22 caps to his name while, Amrinder Singh has one and will be a backup for Sandhu. Vishal Kaith of FC Pune City and Sanjiban Ghosh of Jamshedpur FC are also in the list of goalkeepers.
With Sandesh Jhingan at the back, defence looks solid. Sandesh also has the capability to move up forward and score goals from set-pieces. He has 4 goals to his name in 23 appearances for India. With the experience of Narayan Das, Anas Edathodika and Pritam Kotal, we can expect some delightful crosses from the flanks. Youngsters Jerry and Lalruatthara got their chance again for them in the side by performing well for their respective sides in ISL. Davinder Singh and Subhasish Bose are yet to represent their national side who are also in the squad. Souvik Chakrabarti of Jamshedpur and Salam Ranjan Singh of East Bengal are in the squad as well.
○ Midfield :
Rowlin Borges and Holicharan Narzary will provide the required experience in the midfield with 39 caps. Md. Rafique and Bikash Jairu will also be helpful in the midfield who have done well in the domestic level for their respective sides. Anirudh Thapa and Udanta Singh will be the key players with their pace and through balls which will be vital for Constantine’s side. Lately added Vineet Rai of Delhi Dynamos alongside Ralte and Ashique Kuruniyan will be hoping for a debut. Pronay Halder of FC Goa with 8 caps for his national side is also included in the squad for this tournament.
○ Forward :
With no doubt skipper Sunil Chhetri will lead the attack with his experience of 97 caps and scoring 57 goals for his side. Mizo Sniper Jeje Lalpekhlua will be the key man in the attack alongside Chhetri who has scored 22 goals for the side and also scored the only goal for India against Kyrgyzstan in their last defeat. Balwant Singh will be crucial with his experience and had a good season with Mumbai City FC scoring 6 goals in his 14 appearances. Seiminlen Doungel, after a brilliant season for Northeast United scoring 4 goals which includes a hat-trick will be looking for a debut. Manvir Singh of FC Goa and Alen Deory of Shillong Lajong are also in the squad for this Intercontinental Cup.
○ Current FIFA Ranking : 97
● Probable Starting XI:
Gurpreet Singh Sandhu;
Lalruatthara, Anas Edathodika, Sandesh Jhingan, Pritam Kotal;
Rowling Borges, Halicharan Narzary, Md.Rafique, Udanta Singh;
Sunil Chhetri, Jeje Lalpekhlua.
● Team Rating :
○Overall Rating: 6.75/10
○1st June 2018: India vs Chinese Taipei
○ 4th June 2018: India vs Kenya
○7th June 2018: India vs New Zealand
Venue: Mumbai football arena, Mumbai.
Time: 8.00 PM IST.
● Recent Form :
India has been performing well recently and just lost their unbeaten streak against Kyrgyzstan on 27th March which ended with a 2-1 score line. Looking on the last 10 games India has lost one, drawn two and won seven games. Constantine will be looking to get the momentum for the SAFF and also the AFC Asian Cup with his side with form.
● Writer’s Take :
Constantine and his men will look to win this tourney and grab the momentum for the AFC Asian Cup with high expectations from the fans. Blue Tigers has squad depth in every department. This side has every reason to claim this cup as every other side is expected to field their reserve sides and hence it should not be a tough task for the Indian team. Sunil Chhetri will also be making his 100th appearance for his national side which will be a treat for the fans. My prediction is that India will lift the cup with New Zealand as runners-up.