Some of these duels will make or break the game for both teams on Tuesday night.
India‘s FIFA World Cup 2022 qualifying campaign started off on a highly disappointing note as the Blue Tigers succumbed to a 1-2 defeat against Oman on Thursday evening. The visitors clinched all three points, courtesy of a late brace by Al-Mandhar.
Igor Stimac’s men now travel to Doha for their second game of the qualifiers against the reigning Asian champions and hosts of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, Qatar. The Maroons opened their account for the campaign with a 6-0 decimation of Afghanistan and are looking to justify their tag of being the favorites to top the group standings.
Therefore, turning the focus towards the important key battles that will probably decide the course of the game in either country’s favor, it can be observed that there are some mouth-watering clashes to look forward to.
Watch: Qatar Vs India tactical preview
5. Udanta Singh vs Abdelkarim Hassan
India’s most threatening aspect in attacking front is brought on by the raw and electrifying pace of Udanta Singh, that can trouble the best of defenders on the day. He caused plenty of problems for the Oman left-back Ali Sulaiman Rashid as well in the previous fixture.
However, Abdelkarim Hassan is a different challenge altogether. The towering defender possess all the qualities that a modern day full-back must have. Hassan is physically strong, quick on his feet and a constant threat on the attacking front as well. He also scored a scorcher of a goal against Afghanistan, showcasing his talents in the final third. Udanta won’t only have to find a way past him, but the 23-year-old will need to track back constantly as well.
4. Ashique Kuruniyan vs Pedro (Ro Ro)
Ashique Kuruniyan delivered an inspirational performance against Oman on his comeback to the national side, especially because he had been on the sidelines for a long period of time. The Bengaluru FC recruit was a menace on the left-wing and also shifted in as a second striker alongside Sunil Chhetri.
He will be up against Pedro in the next fixture, who is a Portuguese born defender playing for Qatar. The right-back is strong and a calm operative who is rarely caught out of position and has the physicality to match Kuruniyan’s big frame. It will be an interesting contest between the two, where whoever comes on top will definitely influence the outcome of the game.
3. Rowlin Borges vs Akram Afif
Akram Afif is one of the most exciting prospects coming out of Qatar. He has featured only twice for the national team and has accumulated four assists, with the last two coming against Afghanistan. The attacker started the game on the left flank but constnantly shifted to a central role behind the striker where he deflated the opposing defences with penetrating through balls.
This is where Rowlin Borges or anyone else who plays in the deeper midfield role needs to step in. Rowlin is the preferred starter right now in place of the injured Amarjit Singh Kiyam, and needs to vastly improve on his performance against Oman where he was caught off-guard on several accounts.
2. Tarek Salman vs Sunil Chhetri
Sunil Chhetri scored the 72nd goal of his glorious international career against Oman, with a sublime left foot strike and some clever off the ball movement. However, the captain clearly had it rough as the game developed due to a lack of fitness caused by the high intensity game Igor Stimac demands from his players.
The 34-year-old will be closely marked by Tarek Salman of Qatar, who is a very astute defender. The 21-year-old is so good with his distribution, that he plays as a midfielder for his club on occasions. The youngster is fast and physical and does not shy away from a tackle. Chhetri will need to drop deep and draw Salman out of his comfort zone in an attempt to create gaps. The skipper still remains India’s best bet for a goal and must come out on top in this key clash.
1. Almoez Ali vs Sandesh Jhingan
If India has any hopes of keeping Qatar at bay in Doha, then Sandesh Jhingan needs to deliver one of his best performances for the national team. He will be tasked with stopping the in-form striker, Almoez Ali. The daunting challenge for the centre-back will be the focal point of India’s strategy as they will look to clinch at least a point from a tough away fixture.
Almoez Ali is relentless with his pacey movement behind the backline and has a good eye for latching on to crosses with razor sharp finishing skills. The 23-year-old was was in a majestic form against the Afghans as he notched up a sensational hat-trick and also provided an assist. Jhingan will be up against one of the most prolific strikers in Asia and must play out of his socks in order to have a chance at containing the forward.