India and Kenya meet in final showdown for Intercontinental Cup title
Written by: Punit Tripathi
The stage is set. India take on Kenya in the final of the 2018 Intercontinental Cup on Sunday. The Indian camp will have mixed feelings, losing the last game against New Zealand 2-1 after defeating Kenya 3-0 previously at the round robin stage. Stephen Constantine is certain to play his full strength squad, and the home fans will expect the security pair of Anas Edathodika-Sandesh Jhingan to start.
On the other hand, the Harambee Stars displayed commendable grit and drive to defeat Chinese Taipei 4-0 in the final match of the group stage on Friday. The African side is full of youthful exuberance and the positive result will add to their burgeoning confidence. The Blue Tigers know that they have a task at their hands, and if the rain gods don’t play spoilsport, the fans could be in for a cracker.
Team and composition
It’s as easy as it gets. The pair of Sandesh Jhingan-Anas Edathodika is likely to start, but if injury keeps one of the two out off the XI, Subhashish Bose will fill in. Bose is likely to start at left-back if Anas-Jhingan play, but if he features in a central role, Narayan Das will take the left full back position.
India probables against Kenya in the Intercontinental Cup final
Pritam Kotal, meanwhile, will continue to start on the right back position. The perpetuity showcases the lack of right-backs in the Indian camp, a fault that can be attributed to the manager. Seriton Fernandes and Rahul Bheke present more than capable options, but the Englishman favours the Kolkata lad beyond everyone. Lalruatthara is expected to slot in if Kotal injures himself.
While Pronay Halder and Anirudh Thapa will make a comeback to the centre of the midfield, Udanta Singh and Holicharan Narzary will flank the wings. The wide men are expected to put in a better show after ordinary performances against New Zealand in the last game. Both wingers failed to put in crosses in the desired areas, with strikers Jeje Lalpekhlua and Sunil Chhetri begging for better supply.
Up top, the central line of attack is set to be spearheaded by captain Sunil Chhetri, who’s been in imperious form all summer. The man has already scored five goals in three outings in the tournament, and fans would expect him to add to his tally. The Mizo Sniper completed his half-century with the national side in the last game and would like to add to his tally and if that happens, the home fans could see a favourable result.
Stephen Constantine has time and again chosen his favoured 4-4-2, and the same can be expected by the Indian National Team on the night of the trophy bout. India started with a 4-3-3 formation that looked like a 4-2-3-1 while attacking against New Zealand, with Mohd. Rafique playing at the tip of the midfield. The move failed, and India transitioned to 4-4-2 as soon as Udanta Singh came in for the East Bengal midfielder.
Thus, Stephen Constantine will fall back on his favoured 4-4-2. Sunil Chhetri will play the second striker’s role, and the #11 will run off Jeje’s hold up play. Anirudh Thapa will be expected to transition the game from defence to attack, with Pronay Halder holding the fort in the defensive midfield area.
The central defensive duo will have to ensure that balls from over the top are well-dealt, and Jhingan was subjectively brilliant in the group game against Kenya.
About the Opposition
The side, composing of second-third choice players, had undergone a lot of controversies before the tournament started. After the outset, the team has made the right noises, with wingers cutting in comfortably and strikers running behind defenders to create space for attacking outlets. The team has worked hard on the pitch and their centre-halves easily transform from defensive barriers to attacking creators.
A lot of the onus will lie on Pritam Kotal and Subhashish Bose, as the pair will have to keep Clifton Miheso and Ovella Ochieng under check. Both players have made full use of opportunity and space, whenever they’ve been discounted for.
Young and fast, the forwards are tireless runners who'd be a deal to watch out for. The central pair of Edathodika-Jhingan will need to cut down space, but that will pull the full backs inside. This will lead to space for the wingers, who cut in after receiving balls from the central midfield.
Up ahead, the team presses higher up the pitch, in an almost 'gegenpressing' kind of way. The team continues to press until they win the ball back and then dominate possession, playing the ball on the ground or back, when space isn't available. India must have a plan to ensure that they can keep the young opposition at bay.
Schedule, Telecast and Venue
The match will be played at the Mumbai Football Arena. The Star Sports Network will cover the game and it will start at 8 PM IST. Khel Now will keep you updated with live commentary, videos from the stands, players and coaches’ as well as both post-match press conferences streamed Live on our Facebook page, followed by reports on the same.
Published: Sat Jun 09, 2018 09:42 PM IST