After the conclusion of the Indian Super League 2020-21 season, many of the Indian footballers are set to return to action, this time on the international stage. They will square off against a much stronger side on paper, i.e. Oman.
Much to the despair of Indian football fans, the Blue Tigers’ talismanic figure Sunil Chhetri won’t be available for the two friendlies. This news comes in as a consequence of the fact that the Indian skipper tested positive for COVID on 15th of March.
However, the younger Blue Tigers will aim to play fearlessly in this match and make their captain proud.
Predicted Lineup for India
India will look to play this match in a 4-4-2/ 4-2-3-1 hybrid system as shown below.
After scoring 4 goals as a super sub in FC Goa’s brilliant ISL campaign this time around, Ishan Pandita seems to be the ideal candidate to start as the CF alongside Manvir Singh.
Talking about Manvir, he was probably one of ATK Mohun Bagan’s unsung heroes in the ISL. He scored 6 goals whilst playing in an unnatural position as a right wing back. Consequently, he does deserves to start this game alongside Ishan Pandita as a CF. However, players Yasir Mohammad might get a look in if Stimac decides to go with a more conventional no. 10.
Our predicted midfield is dominated by Mumbai City FC players. The Indian players put in an inspired performance throughout the season for the Islanders this time around. Bipin Singh was a constant threat for Mumbai City FC on the left with 6 goals and 4 assists. His underlapping and overlapping runs were a menace for opposition defenders to handle.
Rowllin Borges was arguably the best Indian passer in the ISL this season. With his accurate passing and intercepting ability, he seems to be the best number 6 in India at the moment. Alongside him, Lalengwamia Apuia deserves to start in the double pivot role after his fantastic season with NEUFC. He was an absolute livewire in the midfield for the Highlanders. Usually it is Thapa who plays this role for India, but he might miss out, after a below par ISL season.
On the right side of the midfield, Raynier Fernandes deserves to start this game. He excelled as a wide midfielder in Sergio Lobera’s system this ISL. However, it should be noted that he is not an out and out winger. Hence, in case Stimac decides to go with a more direct player on the right, he might opt for someone like Colaco or Chhangte.
In left back, Akash Mishra deserves to start this match undoubtedly. He was arguably the best Indian left back in the Hero ISL this season and is surely a future prospect. In central defence, we would opt for Jhingan and Chingalensana Singh. While Jhingan is a name most Indian football fans are familiar with, Chingalensana is a slighlty newer name.
Although Sandesh Jhingan was not particularly at his brilliant best, he still managed to put in decent performaces in an unfamiliar back three system at Mohun Bagan. Talking about Jhingan’s probable partner in central defence, Chingalensana Singh, the Hyderabad FC defender had an excellent season as a ball playing defender. His ball playing ability, coupled with his impressive defensive skills might give him the nod over a veteran defender in Adil Khan.
At right back, Ashish Rai would have been the perfect choice, however, he misses out due to an injury. Hence, a more experienced right back in Pritam Kotal might start the game after a decent season with ATK Mohun Bagan.
In goal, Amrinder Singh deserves to start the game ahead of Gurpreet Singh Sandhu. While Gurpreet has been India’s best no.1 for many years now, he might miss out after a rather poor ISL season by his standards. Instead, Amrinder might get the nod after a title winning season.
There is no doubt that Sunil Chhetri’s absence from the national team is a huge blow to India’s chances against Oman. However, the rest of the Indian players have had an excellent season in the ISL this time around. Overall, the squad looks really nice this time around, and India’s young guns will look to play fearlessly against a much tougher opposition.