India overcame Kyrgyzstan Republic by a 1-0 score line in the AFC Asian Cup qualifiers held in Bengaluru yesterday after an enthralling contest. In an entertaining match that saw some really tense end-to-end football, the Blue Tigers had their task cut out against the physically dominant Kyrgyzstan side. However it is fair to say that each Indian player put in their best efforts on the ground and got India a very valuable 3 points through a commendable team display. With the win India go on top of Group A in the qualifiers with 6 points; with 2 fixtures against minnows Macau and a home fixture against Myanmar to follow, India’s hopes of qualifying for the Asia Cup 2019 looks to be bright.
Although it was an admirable performance by the Indian side there is still a lot of scope for improvement for Stephen Constantine’s men. A few individual performances from yesterday will go under the scanner; however, there were few tactical shortcomings on display as well which Constantine can correct for the upcoming fixtures of the side.
Listed below are 3 tactical tweaks that can further improve the Indian side-
- Closing down opponents quicker
Although the Indian defence stood tall to its challenge yesterday, one evident issue especially in the early stages of both halves were the reluctance of players to close down on the opposition when they foray forward. The Kyrgyz attackers- especially captain Mirlan Murzaev– were afforded far too much time and space on the ball by the Indian defenders at times. Although the Kyrgyz players failed to capitalize on the freedom they were afforded, India cannot be complacent and have to address the issue as better strikers and opponents will take advantage if not closed down quicker enough, especially around their own penalty box.
- More grit in midfield
Rowlin Borges and Eugeneson Lyngdoh formed India’s double pivot in midfield yesterday. The two did put a decent shift defensively yet failed in providing any sort of creativity to support India’s attack. The Kyrgyz midfielders’ outsmarted the duo regularly as they dominated the midfield battle. Even as India’s backline dealt with any significant danger of a Kyrgyz attack, the failure of both of India’s midfielders meant India could rarely take the game to the opposition. The lack of any spark in midfield is also a major reason for India playing out more pointless long balls out from the back, which on most occasions ends up with India losing possession cheaply. The fact that India let a team like Nepal have more possession at home in the previous match is a proof that India needs to be more dominant in midfield.
One solution for this conundrum can be trying out the likes of Isaac Vanlalsawma. The young Shillong Lajong midfielder impressed everyone with his performances in the I-league and although he was a part of the squad, failed to even feature in the friendly against Nepal. With Eugene’s loss of form in comparison to last year a serious cause of worry, Isaac with his impressive distribution and composure might well be the answer to India’s lack of creativity in the centre. A switch to a 3 man midfield can also be an ideal solution with a ball-playing midfielder playing alongside Eugene and Rowlin sitting further deeper; thus adding one more player to share the defensive duties thereby giving more freedom to Eugene to orchestrate play.
Wingers making runs into the box
Of the two Indian wingers that started the match, it is fair to say Holicharan Narzary had a better game, with his defensive work-rate a huge boon towards the end of the match. Jackichand Singh on the other hand, did make a couple of chances but was far from effective. The one issue that Constantine needs to address with the Indian wingers is their reluctance to get into the box more often, especially when an attack builds from the opposite wing. Even in case of counter-attacks, it was only Jeje and Chhetri moving forward into the box and very rarely did the wingers join in. To his credit again, Narzary did pop up in the box a few times but Jacki was disappointing in that aspect too as he more often played way too wide and looked nervous to come inside the box and attack the ball. With an extra man in the box, preferably at the far post, India’s attacks through the flanks can be more dangerous and effective.
Photo credit : Goal.com
(Article written by Mishal, Football content Analyst @SportsKPI)