India will lock horns against UAE in their second Group A encounter in the AFC Asian Cup 2019 at the Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi, UAE, on Thursday evening.
India got off to an impressive start with a 4-1 win over Thailand that surpassed the expectations of many as Sunil Chhetri found the back of the net twice with Anirudh Thapa and Jeje Lalpekhlua joining him on the scoresheet with a goal apiece.
Ashique Kuruniyan has also impressed which has opened up more attacking options for head coach Stephen Constantine to work with.
UAE is coming after a 1-1 draw in the opening game against Bahrain, one that almost slipped out of their hands. After a disappointing start to the Cup, the hosts would be very determined to get back on track to give the home crowd some treat.
Considering the big win in their opener, even a point against UAE would immensely improve India’s chances qualifying for the Round of 16, Although it can depend on Bahrain’s result against Thailand as well. Chances are still good given that the top four third-placed teams stand a chance of making it through from among the six groups in the competition.
With a FIFA ranking of 79, UAE is the highest-ranked team in Group A and poses a difficult challenge for India. The Whites will look to boss the midfield where Anirudh Thapa and Pronay Halder will come up against a tightly-knit three-man midfield.
India will also be required to be vigilant at the back as the likes of Ali Mabkhout and 2015 Asian Player of the Year Ahmed Khalil are goal-scorers with predatory instincts in the attacking third. Mabkhout is seven goals shy of becoming UAE’s all-time top scorer. The defensive pairing of Sandesh Jhingan and Anas Edathodika will be kept busy at the back.
UAE v India: Probable Lineups
UAE (4-4-1-1): Khalid Eisa, Khalifa Mubarak, Fares Juma, Alhasan Saleh, Bandar Al Ahbabi, Ali Salmeen, Amer Abdulrahman, Khalfan Mubarak, Ismail Al Hammadi, Ahmed Khalil, Ali Mabkhout
India (4-4-2): Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Subhasish Bose, Anas Edathodika, Sandesh Jhingan, Pritam Kotal, Halicharan Narzary, Pronay Halder, Anirudh Thapa, Udanta Singh, Ashique Kuruniyan, Sunil Chhetri
UAE v India: Head-to-Head
UAE: 8 India: 2 Draw: 3