India will kickstart their 2020 AFC U-23 Qualifiers campaign against Tajikistan on 22 March 2019 at Uzbekistan. It will be followed by matches against the hosts two days later and arch-rivals Pakistan on 26th March.
To qualify for the main tournament in Thailand, India needs to top their Group F or pray that other second-placed teams perform badly so that the Blue Tigers can qualify as one of the four best second-placed teams from the 11 groups.
In the previous edition of the AFC U-23 Qualifiers, India finished third in the group behind Qatar and Syria. Their only solace in the tournament was a 3-1 win over Turkmenistan after losing 0-2 and 0-1 to Qatar and Syria respectively.
In the 2016 edition of the tournament, India couldn't even defeat Bangladesh before succumbing to Syria and Uzbekistan. Needless to say, the 103rd ranked nation hasn't been able to qualify for the main edition of the tournament since its inception in 2013.
However, this time India do have a realistic chance to make it through. However, they need to line-up their team properly and get their tactics right. On that note, here is how Sportskeeda thinks India should line-up at the 2020 AFC U-23 Championships Qualifiers.
Dheeraj Singh Moirangthem (Kerala Blasters FC)
Pipping Mohammad Nawaz for a spot in the line-up is India's U-17 World Cup hero Dheeraj Singh Moirangthem.
The Kerala Blasters FC goalkeeper even had a three-month trial with Scottish giants Motherwell but, the negotiations broke down as he couldn't sign a contract unless he turned 18.
In the ongoing 2018-19 season, he made 25 saves and 42 catches in 10 matches while playing in the ISL.
Although the 18-year-old has let in 16 goals, much of has to do that with Kerala Blasters' porous and fragile defence.
For his heroics under the bar, he has already won one 'Hero of the Match' and four 'Emerging Player of the Match.'
What separates Dheeraj from other Nawaz and other goalkeepers, including the senior ones, is his ability to give pinpoint long throws.
To the surprise of many, Kerala Blasters haven't made use of it in the ongoing ISL. However, if India decides to play a counter-attacking game, his ball distribution would come extremely handy.