After a 3-0 drubbing at the hands of USA, India are all set to take on South American powerhouse Colombia, in Group A of the 2017 FIFA U17 World Cup, at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, in New Delhi, on Monday.
As India suffered a rather heavy defeat in the first game, it becomes all the more imperative for them to get results out of the last two group stage matches against Colombia and Ghana. Without a single point and a goal difference in the high negatives, India currently lie in the bottom of Group A.
Either a top two finish, or finishing as one among the four best third-placed teams, will ensure qualification for the Round of 16 for India.
Colombia, also suffered a defeat in their first match, a 1-0 loss at the hands of Ghana, find themselves in a similar situation as India, and will also be looking to register their first points on the board.
India will heave a sigh of relief, as right fullback Boris Singh looks set to make a comebacck into the starting XI, allowing head coach Luis Norton de Matos to move KP Rahul to the right wing.
The match against USA certainly exposed India's weaknesses, and de Matos may be forced to make some changes, in order to plug the holes in the boat. Speaking to Bengali newspaper Sangbad Pratidin, de Matos confirmed that he may tweak the formation to 4-3-2-1, which is a variation of the more famous 4-3-3, or the 4-5-1 systems.
De Matos is likely to rely on Dheeraj Singh to warden the goal, while Anwar Ali and Jitendra Singh will again reunite in defence. In the wings, Sanjeev Stalin will likely be retained on the left, while Boris Singh will be the most favoured choice on the right.
India need to dominate the midfield, in order to succeed against the Colombians. Indian midfielders were completely outplayed by USA
De Matos has a number of options in midfield. KP Rahul looks set to get a spot for himself, while the likes of skipper Amarjit Sigh Kiyam, Suresh Singh Wangjam and Komal Thatal are likely to retain their spots in the team. Abhijit Sarkar, on the other hand, could miss out on a spot in the starting XI after a poor performance against USA. Nongdamba Naorem, who impressed in that match, couldfind himself in the first team.
Defence was the main cause for India's disaster against USA in the last game, and they would look to get more organisation going in the backline, in order to thward the Colombain attack, which is known to be pacey and agile.
The Blue Colts need someone who can dominate the middle of the park, and Komal Thatal, after his good performance against USA, could be the man the the rest dof the team looks up to, in order to build the attacks. However, chances are likely to be few and far between, and striker Aniket Jadhav will have to capitalise on the few chances he gets.
Colombia, on the other hand, are a side that likes to keep long bouts of possession of the ball, as they did against Ghana. However, India can take heart from the fact that the Los Cafeteros have not been clinical in front of goal.
Due to the fact that they play a possession game, holding a high defensive line, Colombia are vulnerable to swift counter attacks, and that is exactly where India will be looking to hit them.
However, the South Americans have a strong attacking game, that is set to test the Indian defence to the fullest, with the likes of Jaminton Campaz and Juan Penaloza being the main threats on the Indian goal.
The last time India played Colombia was in a friendly match held in North America, in which, our colts' went down for 3-0. Though the Colombians start with the upper hand in this match, the Indians are sure to have full backing of the New Delhi crowd, at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.
Despite the obvious difference of class, the '12th man' could work in favour of India, which is why we are optimistic that Amarjit and his lads will snatch a 1-0 win on the night.