India eye first win in FIFA World Cup Football qualifiers

The Sunil Chhetri-led side will be confident of earning three points against Bangladesh in Kolkata on October 15. 

High on confidence after a morale-boosting result against Qatar in their previous encounter, the Indian football team will look to notch their first win of the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers when they take on Bangladesh on October 15.

The India v Bangladesh tie will be played at the at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan (VYBK) in Kolkata.

The Blue Tigers occupy the fourth place in Group E with a point after a brilliant show that saw them hold the AFC Asian Cup champions in their own den last month.

The draw came after a narrow defeat to Oman in their opening game, a tie that saw them concede two late goals to end on the losing side on that day.

The Sunil Chhetri-led side, however, did exceptionally well to bounce back from that loss to produce a quality show against Qatar at the Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium in Doha.

Chhetri returns

While the draw against Qatar was indeed a special achievement for a side that has shown consistent progress over the last few years, what stood out about that result was the fact that it came in the absence of their talisman Chhetri and winger Ashique Kuruniyan, one of the stand-out performers for India of late.

Skipper Sunil Chhetri is back in the side after missing the previous game to illness. Image courtesy: AIFF Media
Skipper Sunil Chhetri is back in the side after missing the previous game to illness. Image courtesy: AIFF MediaSkipper Sunil Chhetri is back in the side after missing the previous game to illness. Image courtesy: AIFF Media

But with both Chhetri and Kuruniyan back in the mix for the India v Bangladesh tie, the Indian side will be confident of securing that elusive win on October 15.

Moreover, with Kolkata - the mecca of Indian football - hosting the tie, striker Manvir Singh believes one couldn’t have asked for a better venue for the occasion. “It is going to be a perfect stage for us to get our first win in the campaign and we're eager to achieve that,” he said in a statement released by the All India Football Federation (AIFF).

“I played in Kolkata for a short stint and was mesmerised seeing the passion among them about the game. I just can't wait to go out at VYBK Stadium on the 15th and win it together.”

Injury list

The team will miss the services of full-back Rahul Bheke and centre-back Sandesh Jhingan owing to injuries.

With Anas Edathodika expected to take Jhingan’s place in the heart of the defence, it remains to be seen if head coach Igor Stimac will go with Subhasish Bose as a preferred full-back in place of Bheke.

Sandesh Jhingan will miss the India vs Bangladesh tie due to an injury. Image courtesy: AIFF Media 
Sandesh Jhingan will miss the India vs Bangladesh tie due to an injury. Image courtesy: AIFF Media Sandesh Jhingan will miss the India vs Bangladesh tie due to an injury. Image courtesy: AIFF Media 

The opposition

Ranked 187th in the world, on the face of it, Bangladesh should not pose too much threat for an Indian side that’s oozing confidence following their recent exploits.

But if there’s anyone who knows the ‘rankings don’t tell the tale’ story off the back of his head, then that has to be the Indian football coach Stimac.

Having pulled a Houdini against the much higher-ranked Qatar, the Indian team will be wary of their South Asian neighbours and their aspirations.

The Bangladeshis come into the game after losing their two games so far and will be eager to get some points on the board.

The team managed by Englishman Jamie Day boast some interesting prospects in striker Nabib Newaj Jibon, and midfielders Robiul Hasan and Biplu Ahmed. However, it would be interesting to see how the visitors cope up with the pass-and-move strategy that the Indians have adopted under their new head coach.

Where can I watch?

The India vs Bangladesh 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifier match is scheduled on Tuesday, 15th October 2019 at 7:30 PM IST. It will be broadcast live on the Star Sports network and Hotstar.

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