On a high after an impressive 1-1 draw against a fancied Oman, India is pitted against the formidable United Arab Emirates in its second football friendly here on Monday, with head coach Igor Stimac again set to experiment with a fresh set of rookies.
Ten players made their debut against Oman on Thursday as India made a fine comeback in the second half to hold the gulf side, which is 23 places above it in the FIFA charts.
Oman completely dominated the first half with the Indians not being able to hold the ball for any length of time. The visitors were rather busy defending in their own half in their first international outing in more than a year.
The UAE is ranked eighth in Asia and 74th overall while India is 104th. The UAE won three matches out of the four played between the two sides in the last decade while one ended in a draw.
But India will draw inspiration from the clash during the 2019 Asian Cup group stage where it created a lot of scoring chances even though it lost 2-0.
India paid dearly for poor finishing in that match while luck also did not favour it as two shots hit the framework.
“UAE is even tougher than Oman, so I except a very tough match tomorrow. They (UAE) are technically better side, play quicker football and they will give a lot of pressure on us,” Stimac said. “But that is something we want to face and that is why we are playing international friendly against them. I don’t expect my players to control the game but we have to find a way to compete against them.”
But it will not stop Stimac from bringing in new players from his 27-man squad.
He said even senior defender Sandesh Jhingan will not start while goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu is set to play instead of Amrinder Singh and captain the side.
“We are going to see everyone who did not play in the first game in the match against UAE.” These are friendly matches which I will use to find out the best (players) for the upcoming matches (World Cup qualifiers),” the head coach said.
“I can tell you Sandesh is not going to be involved against UAE. I will have to play Adil Khan also. It will not be justice to the remaining players if they are not fielded in these friendly matches.”