After a resounding victory over Thailand in their first game at the AFC Asian Cup 2019, India will next face hosts United Arab Emirates at the Zayed Sports City Stadium at 9.30 PM IST tonight.
UAE were held to a draw by Bahrain and would be looking to get back to winning ways when they face the Blue Tigers. The Indians on the other hand, would have taken a lot of encouragement and confidence from their previous game and would be focused on staying unbeaten.
Here’s a look at three factors that could determine the outcome of the encounter between India and the UAE –
3. India’s Decisiveness in Attack – Will It Last?
What stood out during India’s 4-1 win over Thailand in their Asian Cup opener was how decisive they were in attack with their smart runs off the ball and actions in front of goal.
The goals scored in the second half by Sunil Chhetri, Anirudh Thapa and Jeje Lalpekhlua were all instinctive finishes which gave the goalkeeper very little time to get into the best position.
Though the Indian team, apart from Chhetri, have generally been quite wasteful in front of goal, they would need to be at their best to help the team get anything out of this game.
Another thing that stood out against Thailand was that the Blue Tigers attempted only two crosses in the entire match (courtesy SgtSaltnPeppa on Twitter), choosing instead to utilise their pace and getting behind the defence.
2. Goal-shy UAE and India’s Stout Defence
UAE have scored only seven goals in their 17 matches under Italian coach Alberto Zaccheroni, with five of those goals coming in two easy games against Yemen and Laos.
Despite the presence of attacking talents like top goalscorer from the 2018/19 UAE Pro League Ali Mabkhout and Ahmed Khalil Aljunaibi, the home side have not been able to display any fluency going forward. Khalil came off the bench against Bahrain to score the equaliser that helped them get a draw.
The hosts are missing Omar Abdulrahman, one of the best attacking talents in Asia, and they would be looking for inspiration elsewhere as they face the generally reliable Indian defence.
Stephen Constantine’s men have been solid at the back when Pritam Kotal, Anas Edathodika, Sandesh Jhingan and Subhasish Bose have played together, not conceding a single goal from open play in the five matches they have started. The goal they conceded against Thailand came from a set-piece.
1. India’s Poor Record Against UAE
India’s record against the United Arab Emirates leaves a lot to be desired as they have won only two out of the 11 matches they have played, losing eight and drawing one. The Blue Tigers have scored only seven goals in these matches, conceding 24.
The two teams have met only once in the Asian Cup, back in 1984, when UAE secured a comfortable 2-0 win.
However, the Indians will seek to draw inspiration from the last time they faced the Emiratis when they drew 2-2 in New Delhi in 2011, with one of the goals coming from Jeje Lalpekhlua.
3 things to look forward to as India face hosts UAE in the AFC Asian Cup 2019