Indian football team is can enter the history books if they qualify for the knockout stage of the AFC Asian Cup thitime. The only obstacle remaining between the Blue Tigers' 'small dream' and reality is the 90 minutes of the game against Bahrain at the Sharjah Stadium on Monday. A win would assure Sunil Chhetri & Co a spot in the next round, while any other result would make their chances depend on the other match in Group A.
It has been a tale of beautiful Arabian nights for the Indian team in UAE. After a glorious win against Thailand, they lost to hosts UAE but showcased an excellent performance to grab praise even from the opposition. This would be a warning signal to Bahrain for the upcoming match.
The team coached by Stephen Constantine has got good combinations working up. The few weak links that remained it the defence at times will surely be sorted. If India can put up a mix of performance from both of their played out fixtures, the Tigers will be playing more at this edition of AFC Asian Cup.
Things haven't been so good for Bahrain relatively. Even after impressive results in the preparatory games for the continental cup, Bahrain hasn't been able to reflect the same with the final touch. In the first match, they shared points with UAE, a result that had more of UAE's dismal performance than Bahrain's hard work.
Later, they lost to Thailand 1-0, against whom India netted 4 times. But, the team under Miroslav Soukup still has chances to advance to the next round, which they wouldn't be giving up easily.
India vs Bahrain: Match Information
Date: 14 January 2019
Kickoff: 9:30 PM IST | 8:00 PM Local Time
Live Stream: Star Sports Network and hotstar.com
Live commentary on Sportskeeda
Venue: Al-Sharjah Stadium, Sharjah
India vs Bahrain: Team News
Stephen Constantine is not expected to sacrifice the positions of any players who started against UAE. Though Anas Edathodika and Pritam Kotal were not at their best, the gaffer will not axe them for one costly mistake. Halicharan Narzary was not a bright presence at the left wing and had to be replaced at the half time.
Narzary remains the only player who has any chance of being replaced but still remains an unlikely event. Sunil Chhetri will have important duties to finish the attacks, while the young shoulders of Anirudh Thapa will take up the midfield. Sandesh Jhingan as always will be India's favourite wall at the back.
Bahrain is expected to play with 4 in attack - 3 midfielders and a striker. Ahmed Juma and Sayed Redha Isa will be the wingbacks when Waleed Hayam and Hamad Shamsam takes up the central defence tasks.
Bahrain's two key players will be the two defensive midfielders - Komail Al Aswad and Abdulwahab Safi, who India will have to overcome to take their attacks into the box. The attacking trio behind the striker is Sayed Saeed, Mohamed Marhoon and Sami Al-Husaini. Mohamed Al Romaihi is expected to find the back of the net at the top, as he did against UAE.
India vs Bahrain: Probable Lineups
India (4-4-2): Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Subhasish Bose, Anas Edathodika, Sandesh Jhingan, Pritam Kotal, Halicharan Narzary, Pronay Halder, Anirudh Thapa, Udanta Singh, Ashique Kuruniyan, Sunil Chhetri
Bahrain (4-2-3-1): Sayed Shubbar Alawi, Ahmed Juma, Waleed Al Hayam, Hamad Al-Shamsan, Sayed Redha Isa, Komail Al Aswad, Abdulwahab Al-Safi, Sayed Dhiya Saeed, Mohamed Marhoon, Sami Al-Husaini, Mohamed Al Romaihi
India vs Bahrain: Form Guide
India vs Bahrain: Head-to-Head
India vs Bahrain: Key Players
Sunil Chhetri will again remain India's most key player on the team sheet. Like it was in the previous two outings, a major portion of the attacks will be involving this 34-year-old. With 2 goals in the opening fixture, Chhetri had announced his intentions in the championship. India having a new offensive inventory now, in the form of Gurpreet Singh's long goal kicks, Chhetri will become more crucial with his fast and clever attacking abilities.
Mohamed Al Rohaimi will be the man-in-charge of the Bahrain attacks. The striker scored their only goal in this Cup this year and will be a threat to the Indian defence. The 6ft 1in man will be a trouble for the Indian centre-backs, if provided with sufficient long balls. Aerial duals can be expected given the 28-year old's good physique.
India vs Bahrain: Predictions
The results in Group A have proved to be beyond predictions so far. With the match being a do-or-die for both the teams and India enjoying a slight upper hand for the qualification to next round, a thriller is sure to be on its way. However, it might be Stephen Constantine and boys who collect the 3 points given their excellent form and confidence gained from the two previous matches.
Predicted Score: India 2-0 Bahrain