Can India do it on a warm, breezy night in Delhi against African bullies Ghana?
A lot of European teams can dream of defeating Ghana with a margin of four goals or more, but India is gunning for it. Are you?
The third and the final round of the group stage matches kicks in with Round 3 from the Group A and Group B teams but this time around, there will be a shuffling of the venues. Group A matches consist of the game between USA & Colombia and the hosts & Ghana. The Group B matches consist of the bout between Mali & New Zealand and between Turkey and Paraguay.
While the hosts and Ghana will stay in the nation's capital, USA and Colombia will be switching the grounds with Mali and New Zealand. Both of Group B matches will be played at 5 in the evening in New Delhi and Navi Mumbai. Turkey & Paraguay will be staying in Navi Mumbai.
Starting with the initial group, the United States of America sit atop with six points from 2 games and boast a decent goal difference of 4 goals. Behind them is the workforce from Colombia who have won and lost a game, winning against India and losing to Ghana. While the hosts are the last in the group, Ghana are just a place above them, with 3 points.
INDIA VS GHANA
COMBINATIONS FOR INDIA’S QUALIFICATION
It is a tough ask, to be honest, but India need to ensure they keep their chances open, and that will only happen if they beat Ghana. India have a goal difference of -4 at the moment, which when compared to USA’s +4 and Ghana and Colombia’s 0, is astronomical.
If India want to qualify certainly to the knockouts, they would like to defeat Ghana by a four-goal margin, and also expect the USA to defeat Colombia. That way, India will have zero goal difference while Colombia and Ghana will both have negatives. Having the same points and a better goal difference will push India to the second spot and certain qualification, but scoring four against Ghana is a massive task.
A look at the current standings to understand the scenario better
If India fail to beat Ghana by the required margins but they win the game, they can still qualify for the next round as one of the lucky third-placed teams. For that to happen, India must expect the USA to defeat Colombia by a heavy margin of at least three goals, and that would also depend on the scoreline of the India-Ghana encounter.
To put the perspective clear, the first thing in consideration is the points. If the points of the teams on the table is same, the goal difference is taken into account. If that comes to equality, the head-to-head scenario is taken into account, and thus, India must not try match to Colombia but outscore them, having a better goal difference and stand at the third position.
The easiest way to become the best third-place team in the group is to defeat Ghana by two goals. By that scoreline, India get to a -2 goal difference, same as Ghana, but head-to-head, India would go better than Ghana.
GAMEPLAY & EXPECTED XI
India need to play like a team, and thus, Rahim Ali and Jeakson Singh will continue holding onto their places. Aniket Jadhav, due to his efforts after coming on against Colombia, might have a look in and Matos may be compelled to go with a two-striker formula, evident from the need of goals. In that scenario, Kolkata boy Abhijit Sarkar may be pushed to the bench.
The rest of the team picks itself up after an inspiring display against Colombia. Anwar Ali will continue being India’s go-to man in defence, having proven his capabilities on multiple occasions against the South Americans. In the midfield, captain Amarjit Singh Kiyam and his cousin Jeakson Singh will continue their presence, trying to break down the physical authority of the African giants. Meetei and Rahul, once again, will be expected to lead the wing lines.
India's expected XI against Ghana in the final Group game
In an alternative, India will play with three at the back, knowing the tremendous work they’ll have to do in case they concede one. In that scenario, Jitendra Singh comes into the fray as the left centre-back, Namit continues to be the right centre-back and Anwar will be the last and central line of defence. Sanjeev Stalin and Boris will be expected to don the wing back roles, and India will hope Amarjit to play a little further, something which he improved on against Colombia.
Will we see more such stories from the Blue Tigers?
In attack, Komal Thatal can come into the scene as well, having played no part in India’s close loss against Colombia. The player who idolizes Liverpool forward Philipe Coutinho can be one to watch out for on his day and if he’s on swansong, there’s little the opposition can do.
*Naorem, Anwar Ali and capain Kiyam are not fully fit according to latest information which was not available at the time of writing.
Luis Norton De Matos: "“We will go for nothing less than a win. We have shown the world that we belong on the same page as them and now we want to show that we can win against them.”
Skipper Amarjit Singh: “We have the utmost respect for our opponents but we will give them a very tough fight, even tougher than we gave Colombia. It is a matter of survival and we will do anything to go into the next round.”
Goalkeeper Dheeraj Singh: “Against Ghana we will need a lot of support. We will give it our very best on the pitch. I expect all to be cheering for us like they have done for us."
Jeakson Singh: "We will play as per our plans. As a team, we are prepared to fight it out. We played well against Colombia. We have fought hard and will do the same against Ghana."
The game will be telecast live on the Sony Network, Jio TV and Sony Liv. You can also follow the fastest and most intrinsic commentary at Khel Now. The game starts at 8 PM IST on 12th October.
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Comment your predictions below to win the same. Contest closes at 7:50 PM IST on Monday.
USA VS COLOMBIA
While the USA is well set to top the group, the match is vital for their rivals, Colombia. Colombia is tied with Ghana on every stat but are placed above them owing to scoring more goals. Colombia need to win the game against the USA and would pray for India to lose.
USA, meanwhile, will be hoping to win the fixture to stay on the top of the group, in a hope to face a relatively weaker team in the round of 16. While they are on the course of doing so, it is highly considerable that Hackworth will be looking to use his substitute players to keep his preferred XI fresh and full of hunger, after the exertion from Ghana game.
HEAD TO HEAD
Historically, Columbia has an upper hand over their American counterparts as they have faced each other once, with the Yellows winning it with 2 goals to nil.
MAN TO WATCH
USA: Picking out a single player would be an injustice to those who proved their mettle in the bout against Ghana. The trident of Weah, Carelton and Sargent have been tremendous in their performances but the contribution of their GK Garces and super sub, Akinola cannot be overlooked.
Colombia: The wing pair of Peneloza and Campaz is too good to look after. Campaz could not get to the score sheet in any of the games, but Colombian’s major attacks came from his wing, the left. Peneloza, on the other wing, has already scored a worldie after cutting in and scoring a Robben-esque goal against India.
USA: Garces (GK), Lindsey, Durkin, Sands, Gloster, Carleton, Ferri, Goslin, Akinola, Sargent, Weah.
Colombia: Mier (GK), Balanta, Gutierrez, Perea, Bentancur, Gomez, Penaloza, Mejia, Campaz, Palacio, Cortes.
TEN 2/TEN 3/DD Sports: 1700 hrs/ 5:00 pm IST and 2000hrs / 8:00 pm respectively.
Published: Wed Oct 11, 2017 11:39 PM IST