AFC Cup: Buoyant Indians raring to go against UAE

Ruben Hill
January 11, 2019

The defence did cave in to the pacy Thai forwards at times but managed to get the job done in effective fashion.While the game against the Thai was a tough one, India will face a much-stronger challenge from the Emiratis, as they will be raring to go after their 1-1 draw against Bahrain in the tournament opener. Nevertheless, the Indians gave a very good account of themselves in a match where most people expected nothing out of them, and on the basis of this performance will no doubt be looking forward to the final group game against Bahrain.

A win for India will secure them a spot in the next round, which would be a historic moment for the side which doesn't have a great record in the Asian Cup, while a win for the hosts will also bring them closer to qualification.

As far as the Indian team is concerned, Sunil Chhetri hogs the limelight wherever he goes, and the Blue Tigers will again look up to him upfront.

India captain Sunil Chhetri overtook Lionel Messi in worldwide goals as the Blue Tigers stunned Thailand 4-1 in their opening game to earn comparisons with Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli for his heroics back home. He is never overconfident, though.

Over reliance on the 34-year-old striker would not have seen them maul Thailand the way the did. Working the ball on the right flank, very similar to UAE's first goal, Udanta was sent through by captain Chhetri and attempted nearly the same finish but was denied by the crossbar - UAE breathing a sigh of relief before Mabkhout finally sealed the game in the 89th minute, calmly slotting it past the keeper to send UAE top of the group.

Earlier in the day, Thailand beat Bahrain and the results have thrown the group wide open. Unlike the former name, Ismael didn't even make an appearance off the bench as the coach failed to acknowledge the influence UAE's most capped global player can bring into the match.

Stephen Constantine's men come into the tie on the back of a brilliant all-round performance that witnessed them claim their first win in the AFC Asian Cup in 55 years.

Midfielder Ismail Hammadi is also a key player in UAE's scheme of things.

UAE will look to dominate the midfield where Anirudh Thapa and Pronay Halder will come up against a tightly-knit unit.

Team News! Ali Mabkhout leads the line for UAE, the Al Jaizira will be hoping to get amongst the goals! The central defensive pairing of Sandesh Jhingan and Anas Edathodika will be kept busy at the back, and so could be goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu. "We still have two games left and we still need another two points to qualify from the group stages", Constantine had said.

Veteran Indian striker Sunil Chhetri was the dangerman against Thailand grabbing a brace in the 4-1 win. We will try to change the image of the team that played against Bahrain.

Only time will tell what's in store.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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