The Blue Tigers lost their most recent clash against the Whites in the AFC Asian Cup.
On Monday the 29th of March, the Indian Football Team take on the UAE in an International Friendly, which will be held at the Zabeel Stadium in Zabeel, Dubai. The match is set to be telecast live in India for the benefit of the fans and Igor Stimac and Co. will definitely be looking to improve on their 1-1 draw against Oman last Thursday.
However, doing so will not be an easy task for the Blue Tigers, who have a poor head-to-head record against the team from the Middle East.
India have won only twice and drawn three games against UAE to date, while the remaining nine matches between both sides ended with them as the losing side. The most recent game between the two took place on January 10, 2019, in the AFC Asian Cup. On that day, the scoresheet read 2-0 in UAE’s favour at the final whistle.
However, when both sides face each other once again on Monday, the situation will be slightly different, as it will not be a competitive fixture. Since the game is an International Friendly, it will give the Indian head coach Igor Stimac plenty of freedom to experiment, just like the recent face-off against Oman. Without further ado, here’s Khel Now’s preview of the UAE Vs India clash.
About The Teams
Nicknamed ‘Al Abyad’ meaning ‘The Whites’, UAE are a team that performs much better than India in the international circuit. This is made evident by their 74th position in the FIFA Rankings. They are lead by head coach Bert van Marwijk, who formerly coached the likes of Feyenoord, Borussia Dortmund, the Netherlands, Hamburger SV, Saudi Arabia and Australia.
Interestingly, the 68-year-old was sacked after UAE signed him for the first time in 2019, before bringing him back to the team once again a year later.
Under Van Marwijk, the team started well in the FIFA World Cup 2022 Qualifiers with wins against Malaysia and Indonesia. However, subsequent losses to Thailand and Vietnam have diminished their chances of qualifying for the premier event. Despite this, all’s not over for the side, as they’re set to play each of these four teams once again when the qualifiers resumes.
UAE also did not enjoy a good campaign in the recently-concluded Gulf Cup. They could not make it past the group stages after losing to Iraq and Qatar. The team’s most recent game was an International Friendly against Iraq on January 12, 2021. The contest had ended a goalless stalemate.
The Blue Tigers are at 104th in the FIFA Rankings, a whole 30 positions below Al Abyad. Their head coach Stimac, however, has occasionally managed to impress fans and pundits alike with his gameplay and tactics.
Under him, India have participated in the King’s Cup, Intercontinental Cup and the joint-qualifiers for FIFA World Cup 2022 and AFC Asian Cup 2023.
In the King’s Cup, India beat Thailand and lost to Curacao and in the Intercontinental Cup, they lost to Tajikistan and South Korea, before drawing against Syria. The team are also yet to notch their first win in the FIFA World Cup 2022 Qualifiers after five matches. They are currently in fourth place in their group, with three points from three draws.
As mentioned already, India’s most recent match was the International Friendly against Oman on Thursday. The match ended in a 1-1 draw, after Chinglensana Singh scored an own-goal and Manvir Singh equalized.
It is slightly difficult to gauge how Van Marwijk will line his team up, as they are playing for the first time in nearly three months.
However, based on what happened in the UAE-Iraq game in January, one could say that he prefers a 4-3-3 formation, that switches to a 4-2-3-1 on the pitch.
Experienced striker Ali Mabkhout will lead their attack, while Khamis and Walid Abbas will lineup as the central defenders. As the India clash is a friendly fixture, the 68-year-old will be open to experimenting as well.
Igor Stimac is an advocate of possession and passing-based football and the team will probably use the same tactics against UAE as well. He generally lines his team up in a 4-2-3-1 formation – but as shown in the fixture against Oman, he is not afraid to switch to a 4-4-2 or 4-3-3 formation, if and when needed.
The 53-year-old will also be experimenting with the players, as this is not a competitive clash. The likes of Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Pritam Kotal, Adil Khan, Anirudh Thapa, Liston Colaco and so on could get chances to play against Al Abyad.
UAE Vs India Probable Lineups
India (4-2-3-1): Sandhu (GK); Mehta, Chinglensana , Adil, Mishra; Apuia, Thapa, Yasir, Chhangte; Manvir, Bipin Singh.
Alternative Lineup (4-3-3): Sandhu (GK); Kotal, Jhingan, Adil, Ashique; Thapa, Raynier Fernandes, Borges; Liston, Pandita, Bipin.
UAE (4-2-3-1): Al-Hosani (GK); Al-Ahbabi, Khamis, Abbas, Abdulrahman; Al-Attas, Ali Salmeen, Al-Naqbi; Al Hammadi, Al-Zaabi, Mabkhout.
Players To Watch
Ali Mabkhout (United Arab Emirates)
Ali Mabkhout has prior experience scoring against India, having netted once in the 2-0 win in the AFC Asian Cup 2019. He is UAE’s top goalscorer of all-time with 60 international goals and was the Golden Boot winner in the Asian Cup 2015.
As the team face India on Monday, they will rely heavily on the experience and clinical finishing skills of Mabkhout to try and register what would be their tenth win against the Blue Tigers.
Manvir Singh (India)
In Sunil Chhetri’s absence, the responsibility of scoring goals falls largely on Manvir Singh. Against Oman last week, the ATK Mohun Bagan did justice to his role by rising above the opponents and scoring with a towering header. The goal also helped India get away with a draw against Branko Ivankovic’s men.
Coming on the back of a good Indian Super League (ISL) season, which saw him have nine goal contributions (six goals and three assists), Manvir used his pace, positioning and shot-making to trouble the Reds’ defence throughout the match. He will be expected to perform similarly against the UAE as well.
What To Expect
The UAE have reigned supreme over India for some time, which is why the most obvious result would be a win for Al Abyad. But, the Blue Tigers are not that bad either, as proven by their fightback against Oman, which ended up with them taking home a drawn result after conceding a first half lead.
That said, India pulling off another stalemate against the UAE would be special, while a win for the Blue Tigers would be extraordinary and something worth celebrating.
Telecast & Streaming
After failing to broadcast the Oman Vs India clash on Thursday, Eurosport are expected to make amends on Monday by telecasting India’s International Friendly against UAE in both their SD and HD channels.
The match will kick-off at 7 pm Local Time, which is 8:30 pm IST. UAE Vs India will also be live streamed on Airtel XStream, JIO TV & VI TV.