The Indian Football Team ended their Dubai stint on a disappointing note as they were thrashed 6-0 by the United Arab Emirates football team at the Zabeel Stadium on Monday. Ali Mabkhout bagged a hat-trick for UAE while Khalil Ibrahim, Fabio de Lima, and Sebastian Lucas' goals rubbed further salt in India's wounds.
India coach Igor Stimac made as many as eight changes to the side that held Oman 1-1 in their previous fixture. Gurpreet Singh Sandhu led the team from between the sticks, while a quartet of Pritam Kotal, Mashoor Shereef, Adil Khan, and Akash Mishra formed the back four.
Suresh Wangjam and Lalengmawia donned the roles of holding midfielders as Lallianzuala Chhangte and Liston Colaco occupied wide positions. Anirudh Thapa partnered with Manvir Singh upfront.
Ali Mabkhout opened the floodgates in the 12th minute after chipping the ball above India's custodian. In the 32nd minute, Adil Khan handled the ball inside the Indian box and the referee awarded a penalty to UAE. Mabkhout slammed the ball into the bottom corner to double his side's lead.
The 30-year-old scored his 68th international goal and completed his hat-trick at the hour mark after making the most of a mistimed clearance from Adil Khan. Five minutes later, the goalscorer turned into the provider as Mabkhout's through ball resulted in Khalil Al-Hammadi poking the ball into the net.
In the 71st minute, Khalil Ibrahim's cutback pass baffled Mashoor Shereef as Fabio de Lima scored the fifth goal of the game. With five minutes left on the clock, Sebastian Lucas joined the party for UAE as he tapped in Fabio's low cross to put the game to bed.
Indian Football Team get a reality check ahead of FIFA World Cup Qualifiers
The lack of experience was clearly on display in the Indian football team's performance. Akash Mishra and Mashoor Shereef were playing only their second international match and found it tough to hold their lines against an opposition ranked 40 places above them. Suresh Wangjam and Lalengmawia also made their debuts against Oman, while Liston Colaco had a forgettable first game for India against UAE.
India's only shot on target came in the 84th minute when the UAE's custodian comfortably collected Manvir Singh's feeble attempt. The Blue Tigers struggled to string even a few passes among themselves.
The Indian Football Team will be in action in June when they take on Qatar, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan in the Asian FIFA World Cup Qualifiers. The competition also doubles up as a path to qualify for the 2023 AFC Asian Cup.
India are currently in the fourth position in the points table, with just three points from five matches. A third-place finish will guarantee them a spot in the third round of AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers.
Igor Stimac and the Indian Football Team need to up their ante and forget the disappointing result against the UAE.