India 1-1 Bangladesh: Blue Tigers Secure Draw Despite Poor Show; What Needs To Change Now?

India failed to grab their first win in the joint-qualifiers for the Asia Cup and the World Cup, as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Bangladesh. 

A packed Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata saw the hosts being held by a much weaker opposition on the night. The stalemate complicates qualification for both sides. Bangladesh, however, will be the happier of the two sides with the result. 

There is no doubt that India, who were the favourites playing on home own soil, were poor on the night. However, Bangladesh were really dejected themselves by the fact that they were just a few minutes away from a historic win over their next-door neighbours. 

India’s hero from their last game against Qatar, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu turned into the villain this time around. He gifted Bangladesh their only goal of the game in the 42nd minute. Saad Uddin’s header gave Bangladesh a precious lead and it looked enough to get them all three points.

Adil Khan, however, had other ideas. A few minutes after making a goal-line clearance to keep his side in the game, Khan scored for India in the 88th minute of the match. He connected his head to a corner dipped in sweetly by substitute Brandon Fernandes to save his side the blushes.

India looked far from their best during the whole game and improved to some extent in the closing stages of this tie. This kind of performance will certainly worry boss, Igor Stimac, especially after the kind of spirited performance the Indian players had showcased against Qatar. With just two points in three games, qualification also looks really tough at this stage.

Stimac started with a 4-4-2 formation with Ashique Kuriniyan and Udanta Singh on the wings and Manvir Singh partnering Sunil Chhetri upfront. This was rather ineffective. In fact, Manvir could not make any impact and it was a surprise that he played the whole game and was not substituted. Surely, he needs to be dropped.

Bangladesh coach Jaime Day’s tactics of pressing hard and defending in numbers worked wonders as India struggled to maintain possession in the early stages of the game. His midfield neutralized any threat that the Indians could have utilized to push forward and score. He also hit them hard on the counter-attack.

India got multiple opportunities to break the deadlock late on, but the Yeasin Khan-led defence stood firm and denied the hosts from creating chances. Stimac played right into Day’s hands, as his team kept playing ineffective long-balls right through the first half. Slow passing and triangular passes was the need of the day, which were seen more in the second half.

The Indian team really needs to work on the long-balls, if they hope to get any wins in the upcoming days. The defence also looked quite weak and were easily shattered at times. Multiple changes to this side are a must, not just in terms of tactics, but with regards to some personnel as well. Gurpreet too surely needs to pull his socks on and look forward to the upcoming matches. 

Cover image credits: The Indian Express

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