The Dutch Caribbean island nation will present a formidable challenge to the Blue Tigers, as they have a number of players with European experience.
The Indian national team will start off their King’s Cup campaign against Curacao, in Thailand, on the 5th of June 2019. The competition will also feature Vietnam and hosts Thailand. It will be the Blue Tigers’ first appearance in the competition since 1977.
Football in the Caribbean Island has been steadily growing as the nation that is primarily known for its baseballing exploits looks to branch out into other sports.
The hope will be that the Blue Tigers can adapt to new coach, Igor Stimac’s tactics as fast as possible. The game against Curacao will be highly competitive, given their pedigree and their team which consists of several players plying their trade in major European leagues. However, it will give Stimac a chance to see his new wards in action.
About The Team
Although the Curacao FA was only formed in 2011, the country has a certain pedigree about it, considering its Dutch roots. The appointment of Patrick Kluivert as their manager in 2015, meant that the side was educated in the ways of Total Football, a tactic that their current coach Remko Bicentini still adopts. Curacao also have a number of former and current Premier League stars in their side, including Leandro Bacuna and Cuco Martina who captains the side.
Curacao have been in scintillating form of late, barring their narrow defeat to Antigua and Barbuda earlier in the year. The side enjoyed massive victories both home and away in recent games including a massive 10-0 victory over Grenada in September of last year. Curacao also beat the US Virgin Islands and Guadeloupe 5-0 and 6-0 respectively.
Bicentini has imbibed the Total Football philosophy in his squad
Remko Bicentini took charge of the Curacao national side in 2016 when Patrick Kluivert, to whom he was assistant manager, stepped down. The Dutchman picked up where his predecessor left off by inculcating a highly Dutch approach to the game in the side. Bicentini did the impossible in 2017 when he brought the Caribbean Cup back to the island against all odds. Igor Stimac will have to learn the strengths and weakness of his side in double quick time, if he is to counter the Caribbean nation’s irresistible style.
Charlison Benschop, Jurich Carolina, Roly Bonevacia, Gevaro Nepomuceno, Darryl Lachman, Cuco Martina, Leandro Bacuna, Shermar Martina, Jarchinio Antonio, Shanon Carmelia, Jafar Arias, Elson Hooi, Gino Van Kessel, Ayrton Statie, Shermaine Martina, Eloy Room, Michael Maria, Jurien Gaari, Zeus De La Paz, Gervane Kastaneer, Jarzinho Pieter, Jimbertson Vapor, Gersinio Constansia.
Cuco Martina is the captain of his national side. The midfielder currently plays in the Eredivisie for Feyenoord, on loan from Everton. The 29-year-old has also played for Southampton and Stoke City and is best known for his curling strike against Arsenal while at the St Mary’s Stadium. His Premier League pedigree and calmness in the middle of the park will be instrumental to his side in their push for the trophy.
Bacuna’s Premier League experience will bring composure for his side
The 27-year-old has just suffered relegation with Cardiff in the Premier League but has plenty of experience and will bring composure and an attacking outlet to the Curocaoan backline. Bacuna has also played for Premier League hopefuls during their time in the top flight. He will give Sunil Chettri a run for his money down the left flank.
Room has been one of his manager’s most trusted lieutenants since he took over control of the national side. The goalkeeper plays for PSV in the Dutch league and is one of the most experienced players in the side. The 30-year-old is no stranger to the big stage and will be invaluable in his side’s push for the title.
What To Expect
Curacao is ranked 82nd in the official FIFA rankings and will be a baptism by fire for the new manager of the 101-ranked Blue Tigers, Igor Stimac. However, the Indians do have the experience and the talent within their ranks to cause a relative upset. There will be key areas of the pitch that India will have to dominate. If India can win these mini-battles, we will be in for a highly interesting game of football.