FIFA World Cup qualifier: Sunil Chhetri-less India enter testing transition part towards Qatar

Soccer group captain Sunil Chhetri together with teammates throughout his final match towards Kuwait within the FIFA Qualifier on the Salt Lake Stadium at Kolkata on June 6, 2024.
| Picture Credit score: R.V. Moorthy

The influential Sunil Chhetri’s absence will likely be a troublesome void to fill because the Indian soccer group enters a testing transition part with an important FIFA World Cup qualifying match towards heavyweights Qatar in Doha on June 11.

The 39-year-old Chhetri referred to as time on his wonderful worldwide profession by enjoying in final week’s fixture towards Kuwait in Kolkata, which led to a goal-less draw because the group failed to provide him a becoming farewell.

Chhetri ended with 94 objectives in 151 matches, having led the nation with aplomb for greater than a decade.

The Indian group will likely be led by the 32-year-old first-choice goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, who has thus far appeared in 72 internationals and is essentially the most skilled participant within the 23-member squad after Chhetri’s retirement.

An acid check awaits India as they run into two-time Asian champions Qatar on the Jassim bin Hamad Stadium, understanding effectively {that a} defeat will finish their marketing campaign and sprint all hopes of securing a maiden entry into the third spherical of the World Cup Qualifiers.

India stay within the second spot with 5 factors and a objective distinction of -3. Afghanistan, who additionally performed out a 0-0 draw with Qatar of their final outing in Hofuf, Saudi Arabia, are in third spot with a objective distinction of -10, the stalemate making the job way more troublesome for Igor Stimac’s wards.

Qatar, who’ve already certified for the third spherical as group-toppers, have named a largely youthful squad, with 21 out of their 29 gamers under the age of 24.

“We now have watched the Afghanistan versus Qatar recreation and can work on the attacking transition, with a hope to begin scoring objectives from the probabilities we create,” stated Stimac on arriving right here.

India had their first apply in Doha on Sunday night and are having the official coaching session on Monday on the match venue.

For the Blue Tigers, a result’s a should. In the event that they lose towards Qatar, they are going to be eradicated from the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers third spherical.

They are going to then be doing battle within the AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers third spherical matches for a spot on the 2027 match in Saudi Arabia.

Nevertheless, if India beat Qatar, they are going to be in pole place to make the World Cup Qualifiers third spherical and a direct spot on the Asian Cup because of their much-superior objective distinction over Afghanistan.

If India draw towards Qatar, they’ll qualify for the third spherical provided that the match between Kuwait and Afghanistan, which is able to kick off in Kuwait Metropolis two hours after India’s match, additionally ends in a draw.

In that situation, India will end second within the group with six factors, the identical as Afghanistan, however with a greater objective distinction.

Kuwait are on the backside of the desk with 4 factors however with Qatar already by way of to the third spherical, all the opposite three groups stay in rivalry for the second and remaining berth from Group A.

For over a decade, one query that has dogged Indian soccer is, “Who, after Sunil Chhetri?” The group is but to discover a deadly striker to succeed him.

Rahim Ali struggled instead within the earlier match and lacked scientific ending expertise. The likes of Manvir Singh, Vikram Partap Singh and David Lalhlansanga comprise India’s ahead line however they’re but to make an announcement upfront.

The fancied Qatar facet will look to take advantage of wherever the India group is discovered wanting, making it extraordinarily necessary for defenders Anwar Ali, Mehtab Singh, Nikhil Poojary and Rahul Bheke to be on their toes always.

Within the midfield, the likes of Sahal Abdul Samad, Anirudh Thapa, Brandon Fernandes, Liston Colaco and Lallianzuala Chhangte will should be inventive with their passing and clever with motion off the ball.

Match begins at 9.15PM IST.

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