Under-cooked India pay the penalty

Losing to a lower ranked side is one thing, being outplayed by them is another. India were in the second category in their 1-2 defeat against Guam on Tuesday. The loss revealed huge chinks in the Indian armour, demanding urgent attention before they take on Iran in their next match in September. Here’s a look at some of the factors that led to India’s downfall:

Preparation time

“It’s not easy to shape up a team in just 5-6 days. The clubs take months to do it and you expect me to do it overnight,” said coach Stephen Constantine earlier this month. The lack of preparation was visible when they faced Oman in their first tie. The midfielders could not find the attackers with their passes, while the attackers couldn’t compliment each other in the final third. The story was no different in the Indian defence as Arnab Mondal and Dhanachandra Singh, playing their first game together, failed to communicate well, giving Omanis enough time to pick their slots. The storyline was replayed against Guam on Tuesday. With almost three months at their disposal, the Indian team will have to slog it out in training and play a handful of friendlies against competitive sides if they have to stand a chance to grab the Asian Cup spot — their realistic goal.

Tactical failure
“Believe me when I say it, that’s not my way. I have not told them to play the long balls,” Constantine said after his side’s loss to Oman. But the long ball game was again evident against Guam on Tuesday. With Robin Singh barely finding his strike partner with the ‘cheeky’ head-flicks and the long balls failing to produce a worthy output, Constantine has some serious thinking to do. With the likes of Eugeneson Lyngdoh, Jackichand Singh and Saityasen Singh in his squad, it is surprising that the Indian side does not resort to quick pass-and-move game.

Lack of firepower
In the two matches, only Sunil Chhetri has been the saving grace for the team. But the team can’t be reliant of their talisman alone for goals. While his superb strike against Oman could the talking point in the Indian footballing circles for some time, the team will need someone to step up and push the side beyond the finish line.

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