The Blue Tigers lost the encounter after conceding two late goals.

On May 28, India played a friendly against prolific footballing nation Jordan. This match was sought as the final preparation for the upcoming AFC Asian Cup third-round qualifiers which are scheduled to be held in June. Head coach Igor Stimac wanted this match to fully prepare his side for the upcoming challenge as well as decide on his best XI.

Only Stimac knows whether he was successful in that or not. But the Indian team must be disappointed with their inconsistency and inability to compete at the International stage. The result read 2-0 in favour of Jordan. India must have learned from these recent friendlies and the eyes will be on them, filled with optimism, in the qualifiers.

In this article, we take a look at three things we learned from India’s latest friendly against Jordan.

3. Five man defence won’t help

Pritam Kotal
Kotal started as a deep-lying right-back against Jordan (Courtesy: ISL Media)

In this game, Igor Stimac fielded five defenders. Pritam Kotal and Akash Mishra were supposed to be the wing-backs in a 3-5-2 formation. But they sat too deep to be called wing-backs and on ground it again turned out to be 5-3-2. 

Playing a five-man backline doesn’t seem to help the Indian team much. This formation restricts the coach from fielding wingers on the pitch. In recent years, India have seen quite a few goalscorers in domestic leagues. But the majority of them play as wide forwards. 

With a change in formation, the coach might be able to get the best out of the attacking players. Manvir Singh and Liston Colaco have shown how deadly they are when played on the wings.

2. Need of an overhaul

Sandesh Jhingan, Pritam Kotal and Subhasish Bose have been automatic picks under the Croatian coach. But the biggest question is still left unanswered: Do they fit in the style of play Igor Stimac wants to inculcate? 

Considering the performances of these ace players, many would agree there is a need for an overhaul in the National team. These players have not been effective enough. India have seen the rise of many talented youngsters in the last two years. Naorem Roshan, Ashish Rai  and Chinglensana Singh have done fair enough in the chances they got. While players like Hormipam and Dinliana are still waiting for their chance after an impressive domestic season.

At least in this match, the focus should have been on testing youngsters like Ritwik Das and Ishan Pandita. Ritwik is yet to play in the Blue-jersey, while Pandita got only five minutes under his belt. It’s high time for youngsters to take over and coach Stimac needs to sense this.

1. India’s cheat code from set-pieces

Mohammad Yasir
Yasir rattled the crossbar from a free-kick against Jordan (Courtesy: ISL Media)

Igor Stimac has completed three years at the helm and it is astonishing to witness that he has failed to implement a well-defined style of play. Under him, the attacking perspective of the Indian team looked less. The players look clueless and often pass back when needed to show bravery on the ball in the attacking third.

The team struggles to find the net from open play. And the problem has somewhat been a blessing in disguise for the Blue Tigers. The team has improved a lot in set-pieces under Igor. They always look dangerous from dead-ball situations.

Against Jordan, India had the best two chances from Mohammad Yasir’s dipping free-kick and Sandesh Jhingan’s missed header from a corner respectively. Against Bahrain too, Rahul Bheke found the equaliser from a training ground routine corner. 

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