AFC Asian Cup 2019: India v UAE - Predicted XIs
Team India prepares for its second and bigger challenge at the 2019 AFC Asian Cup as the Blue Tigers face hosts UAE in an exciting contest at the Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Thursday.
A match that is crucial for both the teams will be a fierce fight between the two midfields. With both the coaches depending on their midfield, for different reasons, the question will be whether India's in-form midfield can get over UAE's troubled midfield against Bahrain.
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UAE does have a very experienced bench waiting for opportunities. The coach has opted for some new and inexperienced faces to the starting XI, but didn't get a much favourable result against Bahrain. But still, Alberto Zaccheroni would give the same combinations one more try with a possible change being Ahmed Khalil in place of Khamis Esmaeel.
Khalid Eisa will be guarding the post once again for the hosts. The defence lineup might remain unchanged with Alhasan Saleh, Faris Juma, Khalifa Mubarak and Bandar Al Ahbabi.
In midfield, the attacks through the wings will be assigned to Ismail Al Hammadi on the left and the possible change Saif Rashid Nasir on the right. The central midfield will have Amer Abdulrahman and Ali Salmeen looking to restrict India's movements.
The second striker will be a key presence in the UAE lineup. The coach started with Khaflan Mubarak in the previous game, but is doubtful to give the youngster a second chance. Ahmed Khalil who scored the goal against Bahrain might be another inclusion in the starting lineup. The striker in UAE's plans would be Ali Mabkhout whose form still haunts the coach.
UAE (4-4-1-1): Khalid Eisa, Alhasan Saleh, Fares Juma, Khalifa Mubarak, Bandar Al Ahbabi, Ismail Al Hammadi, Amer Abdulrahman, Ali Salmeen, Saif Rashid Nasir, Ahmed Khalil, Ali Mabkhout
India would be a much-settled side on paper going into the match. There would be very few woes for Stephen Constantine from the Blue Tigers' performance in the second half of their game against Thailand. However, India must address its few shortcomings at the defence, one which led to Thailand's only goal in the match. But, there are no changes expected to be made in the lineup from the Englishman.
Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, who was handed over a captaincy band surprisingly would again be seen at the goal, but might have a busier day against the hosts. Subhasish Bose, who had stiff competition from Narayan Das for the starting spot, did well against Thailand. Anas Edathodika and Sandesh Jhingan had no mistakes to be replaced in the second fixture. Pritam Kotal too did fairly well in his right-back position.
The midfield too did well and all of them would be given yet another start. Halicharan Narzary would start on the left wing, while Pronay Halder and Anirudh Thapa will be expected to continue the fine work at the central midfield. The right flank would be for Udanta Singh, who has a good opportunity to exploit the wing with his pace.
At the striking end Sunil Chhetri would be seen as usual, with his new striking partner Ashique Kuruniyan. Chhetri's experience and Ashique's presence of mind that led to the first goal against Thailand was a picture of damage this combo can make.
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