India vs Myanmar, AFC Asian Cup Qualifier: Know your opponents
India play Myanmar on children's day, in what promises to be a mouth-watering clash. India have already booked their spots in the AFC Asian Cup showpiece event to be held in United Arab Emirates in 2019, but Myanmar still have doubts about their qualification as they are tied on points with Kyrgyzstan and still have three more games to play.
Myanmar will look to get an upper hand over their central Asian rivals and look to beat India and secure all three points. India, on the other hand, would look to improve their FIFA rankings, something which has been of utter importance to the whole nation of late, after they broke into the top 100 for the first time in this century.
Gerd Zeise, Myanmar's German coach, believes that his team has got what it takes to beat India in India, but knows that it will take a Herculean task to accomplish it.
Indian coach Stephen Constantine has stressed the importance of this fixture and with questions about his credibility doing the rounds, he would not take his feet off the pedal after just having secured a AFC Asian Cup 2019 spot.
Myanmar are a team that, like India, are filled with youngsters. As many as 20 players in the squad of 23 being below 30. Gerd Zeise is one coach who loves to bank in on youngsters, and it was evident when Myanmar qualified for the FIFA U20 World Cup in 2015.
Myanmar would look to keep hold of the ball and pass it around for as long as possible and try to break open the Indian defence, which has turned into a leak-proof unit of late. Myanmar would be cautious too, going forward as that last-minute Sunil Chettri winner from an Udanta Singh minus will be hot in their memories. Myanmar have first hand experience of what India can do on the counter, and will look to be guarded against the Blue Tigers.
They will also look to cut down India's wing play and make them play a narrow game through the middle and pack the middle of the park in a Jose Mourinho-style, and then try to unleash their own counter attack, something which India should be wary of as Myanmar too, like India, have some very quick players.
In the build up to this game, Myanmar who are ranked 155 in the latest FIFA World rankings played Cambodia in a friendly game, which they won 2-1.
The weather should not play a big factor as the conditions in Myanmar and India are quiet similar.
Myanmar like to field a 4-2-3-1 formation, but don't be surprised if you see a traditional 4-5-1, with the 5 midfielders creating a traffic jam in the middle of the park, providing the defence with a double cover. They are expected to throw bodies behind the ball and make it hard for India to play their natural game. With a bunch of youngsters in the squad, expect Myanmar to run for every ball and lunge into every half tackle and space they get.
India could experiment with their line up a bit, given the cash-rich ISL is just days away, and the star players would not want to miss the gala event due to injury. This game could provide the right opportunity for Stephen Constantine to try out some of the young guns, and give them some important International match experience.
Myanmar's Last Five game results
Cambodia 1-2 Myanmar
Myanmar 2-2 Kyrgyzstan
Myanmar 1-3 Thailand
Myanmar 1-0 Malaysia
Macau 0-4 Myanmar
The last Meeting between the two sides was on March 28, 2017 in Yangon, when India beat Myanmar 1-0 via a Sunil Chettri goal in added time. It was also the game during which Udanta Singh got his nickname as the Flash.
Predicted starting XI
Probable Starting XI: Thiha Sithu; Thien Than, Kyaw Zin Lwin, Zaw Min Tun, David Htan; Tin Win Aung, Yan Aung Kyaw; Yan Niang Oo, Aung Thu, Kyi Lin; Kyaw Ko Ko.
Myanmar Players to watch out for
Yan Aung Kyaw
Being the captain of the side, expect him to be in the middle of everything as he will be trying to play the role of a deep lying playmaker. He will be one of the two players, who will be used as a screen in front of the defence and he will look to use his experience to keep possession of the ball and build attacks from his own half.
Kyaw Ko Ko
The current highest goal scorer of the Myanmar national team (among the players in the 23-member squad), this 24-year-old Yangon United player already has 48 appearances for the national team and has scored 13 goals for them so far.
He is one player, who has to be checked at all times, as giving him time and space could mean gifting Myanmar a goal. He has already scored seven goals in 15 games for Yangon United in the National League in Myanmar this season.