AFC U23 Asian Cup Qualifiers – India play Oman in opening match

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The Indian U23 national football team will face a daunting task today at the Fujairah Stadium in UAE as they take on Oman in the first fixture of the 2022 AFC U23 Asian Cup Qualifiers. India have been clubbed with the Kyrgyz Republic, Oman, and hosts UAE in Group E.

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The Blue Tigers training in UAE (PC – AIFF)

There are 11 groups consisting of 4 teams who will play each other once. The 11 group leaders along with the 4 best second-placed teams will qualify for the finals, scheduled to take place in Uzbekistan in June 2022.

India U23 team’s preparations

The Indian colts landed in Dubai on October 20th, beginning their training sessions from the 21st. From the current squad, Suresh Singh, Lalengmawia Ralte, Rahim Ali, Jeakson Singh, and Dheeraj Singh were all part of India’s recently concluded SAFF campaign, where the Blue Tigers put on strong performances in the latter stages and won the championship.

The members of the squad are very familiar with themselves, having been part of various AIFF youth set-ups, owing to their close proximity in age. This will help them communicate easier on the pitch and hopefully help the chemistry between players.

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Suresh Singh Wangjam (PC – AIFF)

Lalengmawia ‘Apuia’ Ralte and Suresh Singh had a stellar SAFF Championship – Suresh scored in the final while Apuia was given the man of the match award by Sunil Chhetri for his performance against the Maldives in a virtual semi-final. However, it will be a contrasting ball game against Oman who will not let India see as much of the ball as they did in SAFF.

Team News

With no injuries in the camp, India will go in with a full-strength squad –

Goalkeepers: Dheeraj Singh, Prabhsukhan Singh Gill, Mohammad Nawaz.

Defenders: Narender Gahlot, Alex Saji, Hormipam Ruivah, Asish Rai, Sumit Rathi, Akash Mishra.

Midfielders: Suresh Singh, Amarjit Singh, Lalengmawia, Jeakson Singh, Deepak Tangri, Rahul KP, Komal Thatal, Nikhil Raj, Bryce Miranda, Princeton Rebello.

Forwards: Vikram Partap Singh, Rahim Ali, Rohit Danu, Aniket Jadhav.

Prferred Line-up

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India – Dheeraj Singh (GK), Asish Rai, Sumit Rathi, Akash Mishra, Suresh Singh Wangjam, Lalengmawia Ralte, Princeton Rebello, Rahul KP, Aniket Jadhav, Vikram Pratap Singh

Predictions

India are the underdogs in this match up and by a big margin too. Oman will look to keep the ball and exploit the spaces left behind by the Indian defense. India’s attacking outlet will have to be the likes of Rahul KP and Aniket Jadhav who can counter with their blistering pace after Apuia or Suresh have won back the ball in midfield. In the end, Oman’s quality may outclass the Indians but it is important that our youngsters show character, discipline and put up a good fight.

Match Facts

Venue – Fujairah Stadium, Fujairah, UAE

Time – 22:00 IST

Telecast – Indian Football Team’s official Social Media

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