There were several highlights from the game that would need pondering over and tended to by the Blue Tigers.
The Indian Football Team in its third 2022 FIFA World Cup and 2023 AFC Asian Cup joint-qualifier against Bangladesh drew 1-1, which is definitely a huge disappointment for the fans who came in to see their national side play at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata.
Igor Stimac’s men saved the blushes and avoided an embarrassing defeat by equalising late in the game through a Adil Khan header. However, being the favourites on paper and playing in their own backyard, the result will definitely feel like two massive points lost.
There were several talking points that emerged from the game, as India remained in fourth place in the group standings as a consequence of the draw. Here are our top five India Vs Bangladesh Talking Points:
5. Did India over-complicate their set-piece opportunities?
It was observed, mainly in the first 45 minutes, that India tried to play cheeky short corners and free-kicks that ended up being failures. In the past, a simple tweak in a dead ball situation has worked in their favour, but it can be argued that too much reliance on such tactics does not always work out.
The Indian players failed to capitalize on their short corners and messed up a good free-kick opportunity at the stroke of the 26th minute as well. The second half saw the Indian team play more direct crosses in the box from corners, which eventually was the source for the equaliser. The Blue Tigers must stop complicating set-piece opportunities in the forthcoming fixtures.
India Vs Bangladesh Highlights
4. Should Manvir Singh and Sunil Chhetri start in a pairing more regularly?
The forward line also saw a change with both Sunil Chhetri and Manvir Singh starting together. The two attackers had a plan in mind, which was to flick the long balls coming in the direction of the striking partner, in hope of catching the opposition off guard. However, the lack of quality deliveries from the midfield made it problematic for either of the forwards to enforce their game-plan.
This was certainly a fresh approach from the Indian tactician and could also be used as a backup strategy in games to come, as it allows Chhetri to drop off and get involved in the build-up play. Despite the lack of productivity in the final third, the striking partnership seems to have good potential and needs to be tested more often.
3. Was lack of communication the reason behind Bangladesh’s opening goal?
Bangladesh came onto the field with a very clear plan, which was to sit back and look for any set-piece opportunities to hurt the opposition. Everything went according to plan, as the visitors went into a shock lead on the stroke of the 42nd minute, after India’s otherwise reliable goalkeeper in Gurpreet Singh Sandhu completely misjudged a free-kick. The ball fell to Saad Uddin who managed to keep his header on target and shoot his side into a half-time lead.
There was a clear lack of communication between the defenders and the goalkeeper, who did not have to come forward for the ball. In fact, the lack of chemistry at the back was visible all throughout the game, which could have led to further humiliation for the hosts. A goal-line clearance by Adil Khan and a one-on-one save by Sandhu being two such examples.
2. Has the absence of Sandesh Jhingan become a massive cause of worry for Igor Stimac?
India recently lost Sandesh Jhingan’s services due to the defender suffering from an ACL injury, that will sideline him for a period of over six months. The experienced figure was desperately missed by his team and the aforementioned lack of communication between the goalkeeper and the backline could be attributed to his absence.
The 26-year-old has leadership qualities like none other and possesses the ability to transform his fellow players’ performances. The Croatian tactician chose to go with another experienced figure in Anas Edathodika, who made a return to the national side.
However, the 32-year-old lacked match fitness and looked way out of his depth. This poses a tough situation for Stimac, who now needs to rethink and find an appropriate replacement for Jhingan, whose presence was sorely missed against Bangladesh.
1. Did the 4-1-4-1 system leave India too light in the center of the field?
Igor Stimac fielded a very attack-minded lineup without a recognised holding midfielder in the starting XI. The formation looked like a 4-1-4-1 system, where Anirudh Thapa played the role of the deep-lying midfielder. This tactic made it tough for India to defend the turnovers and made it tougher for Thapa to impose himself on the game.
With Sahal Abdul Samad joining the attack, the Indian midfield was left very light and this increased Thapa’s workload ten fold. He found the going tough, which was very visible in his nervousness on the ball, leading to unforced errors and inaccurate passes. It just goes to show the vital part either of Amarjit Singh Kiyam and Rowlin Borges have to play when available.