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Which Indian players can make an impact off the bench against Qatar?

Published at :June 10, 2024 at 3:54 PM
Modified at :June 10, 2024 at 3:54 PM
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India need key players to step up against a strong Qatar side.

India’s dream of reaching the 2026 World Cup face a stern test against the mighty Qatar in a do-or-die World Cup qualifier. After a disappointing draw against Kuwait, India now need a win to take control of their destiny.

Victory is the most desired result, but even securing a draw offers a lifeline, albeit a narrow one which is possible only if the clash between Kuwait and Afghanistan ends as a stalemate.

Impact substitutions have become a vital tool influencing the outcome of crucial matches. These fresh legs and focused minds provide a much-needed energy boost in the latter stages, allowing teams to press harder or solidify their defense.

They also offer tactical flexibility, enabling managers to switch formations or exploit weaknesses that emerge during the game. This article focuses on such players who can make an immediate impact as soon as they are off the bench against Qatar.

5. Mehtab Singh

Which Indian players can make an impact off the bench against Qatar?
Mehtab Singh has performed really well in the last ISL season. (Image Souce: AIFF)

Mehtab Singh’s presence on the bench provides team India with a valuable defensive reshuffling option during the match. His versatility shines in his ability to seamlessly slot in at center-back, replacing Rahul Bheke. This flexibility allows Bheke to shift back to his natural position at right-back, potentially replacing Nikhil Poojary.

His strong showing in the recently concluded ISL season (one goal, one assist, three clean sheets) highlights his ability to contribute offensively and support the attack while maintaining defensive solidity with an impressive 81% passing accuracy. Essentially, Mehtab Singh offers a two-for-one solution for the backline, providing defensive stability and the potential for an attacking spark when brought on as a substitute.

Also Read: Qatar vs India: Three key battles that could decide the 2026 World Cup Qualifier

4. Edmund Lalrindika

Edmund Lalrindika’s recent debut for India marks a significant moment, becoming the first I-League player to do so in half a decade. Edmund impressed in the national camp in May and also with his I-League club, Inter Kashi.

Contributing six goals and nine assists in all competitions, the 25-year-old was instrumental in Kashi’s impressive performance. These qualities make him a prime candidate to be a future impact substitute for the national team. He can bring fresh legs in the later stages, and add a goal threat with his attacking prowess.

3. Jeakson Singh Thounaojam

Which Indian players can make an impact off the bench against Qatar?
Jeakson Singh can come on as a key player for India in the second half. (Image Source: AIFF)

Jeakson Singh has emerged as a vital part of the Indian midfield over the past two years. His impressive run of 17 consecutive appearances, spanning from the AFC Asian Cup qualifiers in June 2022 to the King’s Cup in September 2023, is a testament to his importance for the Blue Tigers.

Jeakson’s versatility is a key asset – he possesses the tactical discipline to excel as a defensive midfielder, while also boasting the attacking prowess to thrive in a central midfield role. This box-to-box control makes him a nightmare for opposing teams, as he can seamlessly transition from disrupting attacks to launching his own.

Also Read: Qatar vs India Preview, predicted lineup, injury news, H2H, telecast | 2026 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers

2. Mahesh Singh Naorem

Known for his silky skills, intricate dribbling, and remarkable vision, Mahesh Singh Naorem could bring an immediate impact when brought off the bench. If the starting wingers struggle to create chances, Mahesh can come in and change the dynamic by unlocking the opponent’s defense.

With four goals in the ISL this season, he’s shown his ability to find the net. If India need a late goal, Naorem can provide a direct attacking threat. With his technical ability, he has the potential to create something special, even with limited playing time. He can be the spark that ignites a comeback or even secures a win.

1. Brandon Fernandes

Brandon Fernandes, a standout midfielder, brings a dynamic threat as a potential substitute for India. His intelligent reading of the game and the role of pushing forward pose a serious challenge to opposing defenses. While Brandon favors long balls over short passes, this can be a valuable asset in the later stages of a match when searching for a winning goal.

His set-piece expertise, evident from his seven assists for India from 25 appearances, adds another weapon to his arsenal. Although recent injuries limited his appearances, Brandon closed out the last ISL season in top form, scoring two stunning long-range goals in the knockout stages, showcasing his ability to deliver at crucial moments.

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