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Intercontinental Cup 2018: 5 things India should learn from Kenya vs New Zealand

Written by: Shivam Tiwari

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The two teams played out an entertaining game on Saturday evening and are set to face the Blue Tigers over the coming week.

The Intercontinental Cup, with all its glitter, haS now begun and both of the first two games have proved to be exciting. Kenya, in the second game of the tournament, came from behind to win 2-1 against New Zealand. Now, India face the Harambee Stars in the third fixture of the Intercontinental Cup, with the aim of holding their position atop the table intact.

The Blue Tigers will than take on the All-Whites in their final round ribin fixture on Thursday. So, we bring you five things the Blue Tigers can learn from the game between their next two opponents in the tournament.



Kenya head coach Sebastian Migne had some interesting things to say ahead of their game against India

5. Physicality will be a big issue for India

The talk about the physicality of Kenya and New Zealand never seems to end. It has been doing the rounds since before the start of the tournament. Even without the first team players, Kenya looked dominant against a team as physically strong as New Zealand. They didn't give the opposition any chance in the middle of the park or on the wings, thanks to the extra muscular strength of their players.

India might be relying on the services of Udanta Singh and Anirudh Thapa, both thin and scraggy. It will be difficult for these players to match the likes of Duncan Otieno and Ovella who bossed the game for the Kenyans against the All Whites. Except for the defence, India might fall short of the armoury in every other department. So coach Stephen Constantine will have to plan out a way out of this.

4. Counter-attacks have to be addressed wwell

Kenya played 4-4-2 while defending and 4-3-3 while attacking. The extra man in midfield while defending allowed them to steal the ball from deep positions in their halves and launch quick counter-attacks. The second goal that Kenya scored against New Zealand is a testament to the same.

The Kenyan counter-attacks have proved to be effective

There were several other chances that the Kenyan players, especially wingers, created by counter-attacking. India not only need to keep possession of the ball, but also have to make sure that they don't let them have space in behind the back four.

3. Aerial prowess of the two teams

The Indian tactician makes his team play long passes directly to the strikers from deep in their defensive half. In the first game against Chinese Taipei, Anas Edathodika and Sandesh Jhingan and sometimes even goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu fed balls to Sunil Chhetri and Jeje Lalpekhlua with no involvement from midfield. Only when Anirudh Thapa started finding his feet, did India begin feeding passes from midfield.

The players from both teams are masters at winning aerial balls. Thus, India would need it's midfielders and strikers to stand tall against their opponents. A team over-reliant on long balls wouldn't do well against Kenya and that's perhaps what made New Zealand stop focusing on the strategy after trying them in the initial phases of the game.


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2. Set-pieces are a threat while defending

With superior aerial ability, Kenya and New Zealand will have the advantage against India. The Kenyans will make sure that every corner or every free-kick is targetted on goal. With the free-kick specialist Cliffton joining the squad just, Kenya will be very dangerous.

"It's not the first time that I scored from a free-kick. I've scored a lot of times," said Cliffton to the press after the New Zealand game. He scored just before the half-time whistle with a free-kick.

1. Must contend with Pace

The Indians would count on wingers Udanta and Holicharan Narzary to help the strike duo of Chhetri and Lalpekhlua. Udanta is pacy, but he will be up against equally good opponents. With names like Erick Otieno, Makwata and Ovella on the wings, the  Harambee Stars in particular, will be equally effective on both sides of the pitch.

Published: Sun Jun 03, 2018 07:48 PM IST

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