India vs Bangladesh Talking Points: Stimac's wait for first win at home continues

From a slow backline that struggled to settle in to Sahal Abdul Samad's sparks of brilliance, here are the talking points from India vs Bangladesh tie.

India captain Sunil Chheti reacts to a missed chance during the 1-1 draw with Bangladesh in their 2022 FIFA World Cup Asian qualifier at the Salt Lake Stadium on Tuesday.   -  Rajeev Bhatt

Igor Stimac's wait for a first win at home continued as his side earned a hard-fought 1-1 draw with Bangladesh in their Group E 2022 FIFA World Cup Asian Qualifier clash at the Salt Lake Stadium on Tuesday.

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Bangladesh opened the scoring through Saad Uddin at the cusp of half time and continued to dominate proceedings late into the game. It appeared that the visiting side would pocket all three points, but it was not to be as a moment from brilliance from Adil Khan in the dying stages brought the game back on level terms and ensured both teams walked away with a point each.

Here, we discuss the main talking points from the India vs Bangladesh match:

Stimac's ploy comes stuck

Playing to its strength, Bangladesh was always intent on defending deep, closing down the Indian players when on the ball and using its pace to try and hurt India on the counter-attack. Coach Jamie Day had set his team in a 4-5-1 formation, while Stimac had a 4-1-3-2 formation with Anirudh Thapa playing the no. 6 in front of the defence. Sahal Abdul Samad was offered a free role high up the pitch with less defensive responsibilities.

India was playing a high line and struggled to keep up with Bangladesh’s counter-attacking threat with just Thapa left to mop things up with Adil and Anas Edathodika, who aren’t blessed with great agility. Right-back Rahul Bheke, too, had a poor night struggling to keep up with winger Mohammed Ibrahim.

Anas Edathodika was playing in his first game since reversing his international retirement.   -  Twitter @IndianFootball

 

Stimac also started with two strikers with Sunil Chhetri and Manvir Singh, and the latter was used mainly as a target man. However, the ploy didn’t amount to anything meaningful. Perhaps another body in midfield would have helped India to use the ball better in possession and foil Bangladesh's plan during the turnovers. 

Back four off the pace

Stimac had wanted his team to attack Bangladesh from the first minute to the last. His team, however, failed to walk the talk. After being against the wall for most parts of the games against Oman and Qatar, India struggled to take the attack to the opposition on Tuesday.

Anas, playing his first game since reversing his international retirement, struggled to set the tempo with his pace from the back. As did Bheke, Adil and Mandar Rao Dessai. They were often caught out on the ball by taking too many touches or were looking to play long after Bangladesh closed the channel through the lines.

Bangladesh's Saad Uddin broke the deadlock with a fine header in the first half.   -  Rajeev Bhatt

 

Thapa and Sahal appeared bystanders for the most part of the first half as they watched the back four pass amongst each other. Wingers Udanta Singh and mainly Ashique Kuruniyan are potent attacking threats when the ball is played to their feet, but weren't effectively used. Instead, a lot was asked of them by hoofing the ball forward and hoping they get to the end of it.

Sahal stands out

Sahal was the lone Indian player who could come out of that match with his reputation enhanced. Mohamed Rafi had a torrid time marking Sahal in the first half as the Indian feigned to move one way before dropping his shoulder to turn the other side of him before whistling away with the ball.

He drove the ball through Bangladesh’s midfield a few times in the second half, injecting some life into India’s attacks. But, too much was asked of the youngster as he was often forced to try and take on two or more defenders.

Sahal was the lone Indian player who could come out of that match with his reputation enhanced.   -  Twitter @IndianFootball

 

However, his ability to create space for himself in tight situations when on the ball makes him an invaluable asset for this team in the long run.

More injuries and more mistakes

Stimac’s reign thus far has had glimpses of bright sparks. He has sold the dream of playing a brand of football which is on the enterprising side, requiring to play out from the defence. The inconsistencies in team selection, eight different starting XIs and as many back four, doesn’t make a case for a strong foundation to achieve immediate results for the Croatian. 

Goals have been hard to come by for this team from open play. Of the six goals scored so far, only a solitary strike has come from open play. Stimac reasoned that India created enough chances to win the game. But there were no real clear-cut openings created on the night from open play.   

An injury to Sandesh Jhingan, arguably the best centre-back in this squad, certainly didn’t help him on Tuesday. And an error from Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, after his stellar show against Qatar last month, that led to Bangladesh’s goal perhaps summed up India's far from ideal performance on the night.

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