India are set to take on Kyrgyzstan in their second match of the third round of AFC Asian Cup 2019 Qualifiers at the Kanteerava Stadium, Bangalore. Both India and Kyrgyzstan had started their qualification campaign with a 1-0 victory over Myanmar and Macau respectively in March.
Despite being ranked 32 places below India in the FIFA rankings, Kyrgyzstan is expected to be the Blue Tiger’s toughest challenge in recent times.
India are coming into this match with 7 wins in the last 7 games, the last one being a 2-0 win over Nepal. The victory would have given India the much needed momentum ahead of the match against Kyrgyzstan.
The coach Stephen Constantine expects a very difficult game and speaking to AIFF last week he said “They have some very good players and are very well organised. You think of the belt they are coming from and their neighbouring countries — Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan – you will understand that they are all very capable players. They will be very difficult and we expect very difficult games, both at home and away”.
India will be boosted by the return of star striker Sunil Chhetri who is coming back from a hamstring injury; he is expected to lead the side next Tuesday. Udanta Singh who was vital in India’s victory over Myanmar is set to miss out due to a muscle injury. Ck Vineeth who had a very successful season with Bengaluru FC had sustained an injury and has been released from the squad.
The major concern for Coach Stephen Constantine would be India’s midfield. The midfield in the last three games was completely off color with the team losing too many balls in midfield and creating very few chances. With Rowlin Borges back for the next game and Lyngdoh having a good game against Nepal, the coach will hope they deliver the goods against Kyrgyzstan.
Kyrgyzstan had an amazing run in the 2018 World Cup qualifiers finishing 3rd in the group stage with 14 points from 8 games behind Jordan and Australia. This took them to 99 in the FIFA rankings last year, the highest ever in their history.
Defense is one of the biggest strengths of Kyrgyzstan, They have conceded just one goal in their last 5 matches against stronger oppositions like Lebanon, Bahrain, Philippines and Turkmenistan.
Another advantage for Kyrgyzstan would be the physique of their players. Most of their players are close to 6ft tall which would give them an edge in any physical battle.
They have players plying their trade in Europe and across top leagues in Asia.
Kyrgyzstan’s weakness is their attack. They lack a prolific goal scorer upfront. In their last game against a relatively weaker Macau side, they dominated the proceedings but managed to score just a single goal. They managed to just score 1 goal each in their last 4 victories.
The clash on Tuesday would be between India’s attack lead by Sunil Chhetri and Jeje Lalpekhlua against the formidable Kyrgyz defence. Sunil and Jeje’s form would be the key for India to break the Kyrgyz defense.
The game might be a closely contested low-scoring affair and a victory might be decided by just a single goal.
India has never lost a match against Kyrgyzstan and coach Stephen Constantine would love to keep the record intact when the Blue Tigers take the field against Kyrgyzstan on Tuesday.
India will head into the game with their usual 4-2-3-1 formation with Sunil Chhetri playing behind center forward. Gurpreet Sandhu is expected to guard the posts.
Sandesh Jhingan and Anas will play at the center of the defense along with Pritam Kotal as right back and Narayan Das is expected to retain his place as a left back.
Midfield will have the reliable Rowlin Borges and Eugeneson Lyngdoh in the center. Holicharan Nazary and Mohammed Rafique are expected to operate from the wings.
Kyrgyzstan coached by Russian Aleksandr Krestinin play a direct 4-4-2. Their Defense would be led by Azamat Baymatov and their midfield will be powered by captain Edgar Bernhardt and top scorer Anton Zamlianukhin.
Sunil Chhetri – To score goals up front India will be dependent on ever relaiable capatain . Scoring against Kyrgyzstan wouldn’t be something new to Sunil, as the striker has already scored against them in 2009 Nehru Cup.
Rowlin Borges – In the last two years Borges has emerged as India’s best Defensive Midfielder. With India’s midfield woes in recent game a lot will depend on him to win balls in the midfield break attacks
Jeje Lalpekhlua – 7 goals in last 7 games for NT Jeje Lalpekhlua is one fire. Stephen Constantine will hope that the striker continues his good form against Kyrgyzstan in order to break their solid defense.
Daniel Tagoe – Tagoe is a Ghanaian born naturalized citizen of Kyrgyzstan. He has experience playing in Russia,Bahrain etc. India will have to work hard to get past him in the Kyrgyz defense.
Anton Zemlyanukhin – The Attacking midfielder is highest goalscorer for Kyrgyzstan in international football. He currently plays in Thai League and has experience playing in Serbia and Kazakhstan. He will be vital for Kyrgyzstan in their bid to win the match.
India – W,W,W,W,W
Kyrgyzstan – W,D,W,L,D
India has won 7 out of their last 7 games while Kyrgyzstan could manage only 2 wins out of their last 5. Apart from Puerto Rico, all the other opposition teams which India faced were ranked above 150. Hence the match against Kyrgyzstan will be the real test for India in their ongoing quest for success on the international stage.
HEAD TO HEAD
India and Kyrgyzstan have met 2 times in the past in the 2007 and 2009 edition of the Nehru Cup. India won both the ties quite easily. Nine years since the last meeting, a lot has changed. Kyrgyzstan has improved a lot and have some players plying their trade in Europe. The game on Tuesday is expected to be a closely contested one.
Date : 13th June 2017
venue : Sri Kanteerava Stadium, Bangalore
Time : 8pm IST
Telecast – Star Sports Network
Live Stream – Hot Star