The Blue Tigers will have their hands full against strong opponents.

India play Belarus in an international friendly on March 26. This will be the Blue Tigers’ second friendly match following their game against Bahrain on March 23. The match will be crucial in preparation for the upcoming AFC Asian Cup 2023 third-round qualifiers. Belarus are part of the UEFA and are also higher ranked than India on the FIFA rankings.

Belarus will be a stern test for Igor Stimac’s men who will be looking to prepare well ahead of the crucial AFC Asian Cup qualifiers. Stimac has gone with a pretty young squad for the friendlies against Bahrain and Belarus, with most players from those that impressed in the recently concluded Indian Super League season. However, beating a UEFA side will be a big task for the Blue Tigers.

Here is a look at Belarus in particular and what can India expect when they take the field against them in a few days’ time:

Recent Performances

Belarus vs Jordan match
Belarus were last in action on November 16, 2021, when they played a friendly against Jordan (Courtesy: Instagram/@belarus_football_team)

The last international friendly saw Belarus take on Jordan and they won the fixture by a 1-0 scoreline. That win snapped an eight-match losing streak from the FIFA World Cup qualifiers. From eight matches in the group, Belarus lost seven and won once, against Estonia. They lost an international friendly 2-1 to Azerbaijan in the midst of the qualifiers.

About the team

Belarus is ranked 94 in FIFA rankings, 10 places better than 104th placed Indian team. It is a member nation of the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA). The outfit was part of the UEFA World Cup qualifying group alongside the likes of Belgium, Wales, the Czech Republic and Estonia. 

Several figures in the national team play in the Russian Premier League. There are players who also represent teams like FC Astana, Dinamo Minsk and play for various other clubs in countries like Cyprus, Hungary, etc. Evgeniy Yablonsky is the skipper who plays for Aris Limassol in Cyprus. 

The Coach

Belarus coach Georgy Kondratyev
Kondratiev has been appointed as the caretaker manager until December 2022 (Courtesy: Instagram/@belarus_football_team)

Georgi Kondratjev is the tactician overlooking the Belarus national football team. He took over the reins of the squad from July 2021 and is in contract until December 2022. The 62-year-old puts his faith in 4-4-1-1 and 3-5-2 formations and thus, his team is hard to break down. He has previously worked with developmental teams of Belarus, such as the U21s and the U23s as well. 

At the club level, he was assistant manager at Dinamo Minsk and manager of teams like Belshina and FK Minsk.

Players to Watch

Evgeniy Yablonskiy

Yevgeny Yablonsky
Evgeniy Yablonskiy captains Belarus (Courtesy: Instagram/@belarus_football_team)

Belarus secured the win against Jordan thanks to the solitary goal from Evgeniy Yablonskiy. The midfielder is the skipper of the national team and a major key to their game plan. He currently plays for Aris Limassol and will be a threat to India during the international friendlies. His leadership skills make him a vital figure in the team. 

The 26-year-old has three goals in 18 caps for the national team too. His ability to contribute in both attack and defence will come in handy for Belarus when they come up against India.

Vladislav Klimovich

Vladislav Klimovich
The 25-year-old plays Hungarian top-division club Gyirmot (Courtesy: Instagram/@belarus_football_team)

Another player that will threaten Indian defence will be Vladislav Klimovich, who plays for Hungarian top-tier club, Gyirmot FC. He has won the Belarusian League twice with BATE Borisov. 

The attacking midfielder plays in the No.10 role and provided the assist for Yablonsky’s goal against Jordan in the recent friendly. His creativity will be a major asset for the team and India must keep him silent during the tie.

Andrey Solovey

When it comes to the striking department, all eyes will be on Andrey Solovey. The striker will likely lead the line for the Belarusian national team and could also team up with Ivan Bakhar as a striking pairing. 

The 27-year-old plays for Soligorsk in the Belarusian first division. He won the Belarusian Cup with Torpedo-BelAZ Zhodino in 2015-16 as well. 

What to Expect

Belarus will be the favourites while stepping on to the pitch with India during the international friendly. Their recent win over Jordan will play as a morale booster. However, Indian players will take confidence from their recent SAFF Championships win in the Maldives. 

Igor Stimac’s men will find it hard to score against the Europeans and will need to deliver a big performance against a better-ranked team. The Blue Tigers will look to end their sojourn in Bahrain with a win against a tougher team. 

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