4. Glan Martins – Industrious as ever
Glan Martins has been India’s star man in these last three matchdays of the World Cup qualifiers. Glan has been going from strength to strength after his move to FC Goa in January. A brilliant second half of ISL followed by another brilliant display in the AFC Champions League before making his debut for India against Qatar. The workhorse in India’s midfield, Glan is an ideal box to box midfielder who finds life easier on either side of the centre line.
Glan had a strong performance against Qatar and Bangladesh and was all over Afghanistan. Chasing down loose balls, closing down Afghan players, moving the ball forward, running with the ball at his feet, joining the attack and helping out defensively, Glan Martins did it all. While his distribution game wasn’t at its best today but given how Indian midfielders gave the ball away at free will today, Glan stood out among them with his passing. He looked comfortable on the ball once again today and didn’t shy away from doing the dirty work but was disciplined as ever. He is a resourceful ace up Stimac’s sleeve and has proven his worth in Doha in the course of the last three games and needs to be preserved carefully for the sake of the Blue Tigers prospects.
5. India vs Afghanistan – A Physical Fight
India vs Afghanistan could have easily ended up being a brawl, luckily it didn’t. One of the most physical games in the World Cup qualifiers saw both teams going at each other without the ball as both sides were left frustrated by the lack of goal scoring opportunities. The referee’s leniency was a major contributing factor as both teams started showing brute strength of force on the football pitch. Players went up for headers with their elbows out. Defenders cleaned up forward moving players with late meaty tackles and quite a few of them may be too dangerous to be taking place on a football pitch and strangely, they got away scot-free.
Bheke was late in his tackles, Manvir lashed out at Amiri after the Afghan defender went to head a ball with his elbows into the Indian striker, which left Amiri with a blow on his cheek the Punjab lad. Afghan defenders took out India midfielders and attackers with some brawny defending that saw a few more than usual strong tackles. The referee’s leniency in producing a warning also played as a contributory factor in a more physical game than pretty and the lack of any major blowout from the players except Manvir on that one occasion was convenient.
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