FIFA World Cup Qualifiers | Predicted Lineup for India vs Qatar
With a little more than 24 hours left for the much-anticipated 2022 World Cup qualifier between India and Qatar, here's a look at the Indian side that is most likely to take the field.
As the Indian football team gets ready to take on Asian powerhouse Qatar in the joint FIFA World Cup and AFC Asian Cup qualifier on Thursday, head coach Igor Stimac will have to make several difficult decisions regarding the starting eleven that he puts out. Captain Sunil Chhetri is back in the mix, and with several more experienced players also back, it will be interesting to see if the Croatian sets the side up for a draw or if he goes for all three points. Here is our predicted Indian starting lineup.
Having just signed a long-term contract with ATK Mohun Bagan, Amrinder Singh will be hoping that he gets into the side ahead of Gurpreet Singh Sandhu. In front of him, Stimac has the option of using any two amongst Chinglensana Singh, Sandesh Jhingan, Narender Gehlot and Adil Khan as his centre-back duo. Our pick? Sandesh and Sana.
Pritam Kotal should start ahead of Rahul Bheke at right-back, while Akash Mishra would be expected to overcome a similar challenge from Subhasish Bose at left-back.
The midfield is where it gets interesting. In Anirudh Thapa, Apuia, Sahal Abdul Samad, Brandon, Glan Martins and Rowllin Borges, India has midfielder of all shapes and moulds in the squad. However, what remains to be seen is whether Stimac takes a pragmatic approach or if he tries to attack Qatar down the middle.
In all probability, trying to beat Qatar at their own game might be a bit of a risk, something that we also saw in the 6-0 drubbing against UAE recently. Therefore, a midfield trio of Rowllin, Glan and Apuia/Thapa looks most likely with the others coming on later in the game.
Sunil Chhetri's return means he would lead the line for India after more than a year. Other options include Manvir Singh, Ishan Pandita, Lallianzuala Chhangte, Bipin Singh and Ashique Kuruniyan. Of these, Manvir and Ashique are expected to get the nod considering their previous experience in big games. However, all of the others can change the game after coming on from the bench, especially Bipin, who has had a brilliant Indian Super League (ISL) season and even provided the assist for Manvir's goal against Oman.