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FIFA World Cup Qualifiers

Top three players who can replace Sunil Chhetri upfront against Qatar

Published at :June 9, 2024 at 3:51 PM
Modified at :June 9, 2024 at 3:51 PM
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Igor Stimac must opt for a striker similar to Sunil Chhetri who can find the back of the net.

Indian men’s national football team is preparing for a crucial 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers (second round) fixture against Qatar on 11 June 2024. The Blues are hunting for a place in the third and final round of the qualifiers and must secure a win to secure the second position in Group A which also ensures a berth in the 2027 AFC Asian Cup in Saudi Arabia.

However, winning against the mighty Qatar is a huge challenge, the side which are yet to lose a single game in the FIFA World Cup qualifiers and have won the last two Asian Cups. Furthermore, since Sunil Chhetri’s retirement from international football, the Indian team must think of a replacement who can attempt to fill the boots of the legendary footballer. 

Igor Stimac talked about a few options during a post-match interview after the goalless draw against Kuwait which was also the last time Sunil Chhetri donned the Indian jersey in an emotional night. As the fixture against Qatar nears, here is a look at the top three players who can replace Sunil Chhetri against the Maroons:

Rahim Ali

Rahim Ali gave a good account of himself in the second half against Kuwait in the previous qualifier. He made a few important runs behind the backline and had the best chance of the game to score from a one-on-one situation. His finishing let him down in an otherwise positive performance.

Rahim Ali was the first name Igor Stimac mentioned during the post-match interview against Kuwait while talking about potential replacements for Sunil Chhetri. If Rahim Ali gets the nod, he must deliver in the final third as India might not get a lot of scoring chances against the mighty Qatar.

Manvir Singh

Manvir Singh is one of the players whose name often comes up in the discussion of possible replacements for Sunil Chhetri in the No.9 role. The Mohun Bagan player has the physical stature and the pace that a modern target man needs. However, his lack of experience playing in the striker’s role at the club level does him a disservice.

At times, Manvir Singh fails to show the striker’s instinct inside the 18-yard box. Having said that, Singh is a decent finisher and an extremely hard-working player. He can press high and contribute to preventing Qatar defenders from settling while in possession of the ball. It will be interesting how Igor Stimac utilizes the forward in the upcoming game where India desperately needs to score.

Vikram Partap Singh

Vikram Partap Singh is a brilliant option to consider as a replacement for Sunil Chhetri. Igor Stimac appreciates the forward for his work ethic and he enters the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers on the back of an excellent domestic campaign for Indian Super League outfit Mumbai City FC.

The 22-year-old scored eight goals and provided four assists in the 2023-24 league term and played a key role in helping the Islanders win the ISL playoffs. His tenacity and willingness to take on defenders and run the channels can be a brilliant weapon for Igor Stimac to exploit.

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