India vs Bangladesh World Cup Qualifier: 5 things we learnt from India's win
India rode on a brace from Sunil Chhetri to register an important World Cup and AFC Asian Cup qualifier win against Bangladesh on Monday. Here are the key takeaways from that game.
India rode on a Sunil Chhetri brace to come away 2-0 victors against a resolute Bangladesh side in their FIFA World Cup and AFC Asian Cup joint qualifier on Monday. India moved to third in Group E behind Qatar and Oman, with six points from seven matches. With the final game against Afghanistan still to play next week, another victory will ensure that India qualifies directly for the AFC Asian Cup third round qualifiers.
Here are the major takeaways from the game against Bangladesh:
Sunil Chhetri is still our best attacker
The captain once again proved to be the difference-maker in an important game and came up with two beautiful goals to secure the victory. The last two Indian Super League (ISL) seasons have thrown up a host of youngsters who are all very talented. But if the previous two matches are to be taken at face value, India still has just one player who can find the net regularly. More importantly, he "knows" how to find the net regularly and takes up positions that help him do the same. The likes of Manvir, Bipin and Ishan Pandita still have a lot of maturing to do, especially in terms of their positioning, first touch and decision-making while playing a pass in the final third.
Brandon Fernandes HAS to start more games
If you take a look at the Indian eleven that started the game against Qatar, it revealed a defensive formation that banked on the pace and trickery of Manvir and Bipin to initiate counter-attacks. However, where Igor Stimac might have missed a trick was not starting even one ball-playing midfielder who can pick a final pass or pop up in pockets of space in the final third. Those are the exact things that Brandon does immensely well. The Goan midfielder created as many as five goalscoring chances yesterday, which is simply exceptional. Going forward, he has to start more games, even more so if we are playing on the counter.
Chinglensana Singh is one for the future
Sana has improved by leaps and bounds and is probably the best centre-back in the national team behind Sandesh Jhingan. He has all the attributes of a great ball-playing defender, is good in the air and has a good tackle in him. The upcoming ISL season will be another good test for him, but the initial signs are promising.
In need of more tactical flexibility
While many would point out that the 2-0 victory was quite comfortable in the end, the truth is, India had to huff-and-puff quite a bit to reach the finishing line. We dominated the game in the first half and looked good for a couple of goals. But when things didn't seem to be working out, we did fall back on the old habit of trying lobbed balls for our forwards to run on to. While that may be acceptable against Qatar, against lowly Bangladesh, we should be able to find other avenues. Maybe put more crosses in by getting more people inside the box, or even create overloads on one side and switch play thereafter. There has to be a stronger impetus on chance creation, especially from the midfield.
Role of full-backs
For some reason, we seem to have compromised on the threat that full-backs can provide when they attempt overlapping runs down the two flanks. In both the games, India seemed content to use the two wingers to provide width with the full-backs content with staying back. In modern-day football, overlapping full-backs are one of the most essential attacking outlets for any side. There is scope for improvement on that front, especially because we have players who can deliver good crosses from dangerous positions. Then again, the players need to play together more to develop a better understanding, so it is all part of that process.