Welcome to Sportstar's highlights of this evening's India vs Belarus friendly match being played at the Bahrain National Stadium in Riffa, Bahrain.
This was Neeladri Bhattacharjee bringing you the pre-match buildup and minute-by-minute updates of this match. That was all for the night. Thanks for tuning in and take very good care of yourselves.
India 0-3 Belarus
90+1' GOOOAAAALLLLL!!!!! Belarus gets the ball in the penalty box and Valeriy Gromyko finishes in style to make it 3-0 for Belarus
IND 0-3 BLR
90' A mistake by the Belarusian backline gifts the ball to Rahim Ali, who runs with the ball, but vefore he could take a shot, Khatevic gobbles it up
89' The corner kick goes out for a goal kick as India chases Belarus' back passes to Khatevic and back the ball goes into the Indian half
89' Substitution for India! In: Pritam Kotal, Out: Hormipam Ruivah
87' Shevchenko makes a forward run, but fails to find a way past the Indian defence and the play that follows sees Jhingan clear the ball for a corner kick
86' Belarus playing among themselves at the back, with back passes to Khatevic. Its players' job is done. They have the lead and will look to play out the remaining time in the match
84' Chance! Andrei and Klimovic makes runs into the final third and the former is dispossessed of the ball as the latter tries to loft the ball over the goalkeeper, but Gurpreet is there to catch the ball and get over it
83' India finding some tempo late in the game, with Thapa and Roshan pairing up to create a set-piece attack, which eventually ends with the ball going out for a goal kick
82' India tries to build an attack, with Thapa delivering a cross from the midfield along his left, but the cross fro, the left is intercepted by the Belarusian defence, which heads the ball out of danger
78' Belarus is now toying with a side that has returned to five men at the back, bu tlong balls, aerial crosses and combination play has been a panacea that Belarus has reaped fruits of throughout the game tonight
76' Belarus gets the ball back after a clearance off India's box. Though Thapa and Rahim Ail chases the ball, Belarus gets the ball back with Ebong making a run from the left, cuts in right and Belarus gets a corner kick
68' GOOOAAAAALLL!!!!! Belarus attacks again, with combination play, one-two as No. 11, Andrey Solovey, finishes in style to double the lead for Belarus
India 0-2 Belarus
67' Block! Belarus goes on another counter attack, but just before the final shot in the penalty box, Jhingan makes a key block to deny a second goal for a side that has rained attacks
65' Shevchenko takes the throw-in which is cleared by Jhingan, only for the Belarus midfield to get the ball along the wings. India, meanwhile teals the ball and passes it long for Manvir, who sees Khatevic get to the ball first
64' Volkov and Yudenkov pair up to fortify the defence as the boys in red try to defend the slender lead they have
62' Ebong tries to make a run along the left flank and is forced out to pass at the back as India tries to make a run in the final third, but Manvir is stopped by Yudenkov
60' Substitution for India! In: Aniket Jadhav , Out: Suhair VP
58' India looks to be trying to march foward with three instead of five men at the back in the second half. But that may just be more dangerous for a side that can break on the counter
48' GOOOAAAALLLLLLLL!!!!! Artem Bykov volleys it home from inside the box to give Belarus the lead. Gurpreet, who had been rock solid until now is finally beaten as India goes behind for the second time in a row in this tour
India 0-1 Belarus
46' Chance! Ebong again at the centre of Belarus' attackm, with a run along the left flank, playing a one-two and then cutting to hit right, but his shot is caught by Gurpreet
Second Half Begins!
India 0-0 Belarus
45' Chance for Belarus to make a mark with a free kick, whihc is taken by Bakhar, but India clears the ball away
42' India keeping the midfield shave really well, but Belarus tries to beat India with a long ball as it earns a corner kick, which is headed away by India initially and then a shot from the left flank is gobbled up by Gurpreet
39' Yudenkov and Volkov keeps the back protected by Belarus as Manvir and Suhair try to run them out and just then Manvir makes a great run into the box, beats the Belarusian defence, but fails to beat the last line of defence -- the goalkeeper as Khatevic gets the bal to put the attack to bed
36' Spoiled chance! India makes a great run into the final third, with Manvir getting the ball in front of the box, passes to Suhair, who is closed down as he passes into the midfield and then Belarus tracks back to end that attack
35' India has been left chasing the ball in most part of the first half as Belarus tries to break in from the left flank and gives India a throw in
31' Belarus, after getting on the backfoot for a few seconds goes on the attack again with Yablonsky and Sedko making a run in front of the box, but the Indian defence stops the final shot as the ball deflects and reaches Gurpreet easily
28' Manvir chases the ball right into the Belarus finial third till Khatevic gets teh ball to kick it back into play for Belarus
26' Injury scare! Sandesh Jhingan looks to be down on the ground as the Indian medical team attends to him. Pronay Halder is getting ready to come on, but Jhungan is back to his feet
26' Poor shot by Belarus! Yuzepchuk flies is a ball for literally no one along the left wing as India gets a throw in
24' India goes on attack, with Naorem flying the ball from the left to the right, until Belarus tracks bacl to repossess the ball. India needs to get better in ball retention -- osmething Stimac has stressed in press conferences
23' Miss! Shevchenko gets the ball in the final third, gives a delicious lofted ball for Ebong, who misses to meet the ball with his first touch.
21' Shot! Belarus tries to create an attack along te left wing, with Yuzebchuk and Shevchenko pairing up and then Ebong gets the ball in front of the pernalrty box and shoots to see the ball fly over the goal
19' Yuzepchuk tries to run into the midfiled, but is forced at the back and now India tries to build an attack, which is thwarted by the Red Shirts
17' Klimovich's spaces are cut down as Belarus gets the ball along the right wing again, This is one space it is trying to exploit again and again and then Belarus goes for goal again for a goal kick. No shots from India so far
15' Belarus trie sto give a through ball to Yablonsky, who then plays it to Sedko, but India is pressing high and then Belarus gets the ball in front through the right wing with Ebong making a run, but his cross is caught well by Gurpreet
13' Free Kick! Belarus' free kick is cleared by the Indian defence as the ball after the clearance is hit for a goal kick that follows
11' Chance! Manvir gets the ball in the final third, but the Belarusian defence tracks back on time and doesn't give the Indian forward any space to attack as India gets its first chance to attack
9' Throw in for India, which gets it through along the right wing, but Belarus is marking the Indians well as the ball goes back to Khatevich. Good football all around in Bahrain so far
8' Chance! Yuzepchuk plays a good dummy as Belarus gets the ball through the right to the left wing, but the final shot flies off target for a goal kick
7' Save! Bakhar takes the free kick which is captured well by Sandhu who is playing his 50th international tonight
6' Foul! Bakhar tries to make a run in the final third and is fouled at the edge of the box for a Belarusian free kick
5' Belarus has three men at the back, forcing five blue shirts at the back and a shot by the boys in red that flies off target
4' Another long ball by Belarus from the midfield and this time too, it is overhit as the team continues to expose the aerial threat that India remains vulnerable to.
2' Belarus tries to build the attalck, with smooth passes in the midfield, but India gets to it through zonally marking the final third
1' India kicks off the match and begins with a back pass -- something Stimac has indicated before tha match. Meanwhile, Bakhar gets the ball off a long ball, but Gurpreet gets to it first to end the attack
9:31 pm: Kick off!
9:25 pm: The players have come out on the field and have taken their positions after the National Anthems. The stage is set as India takes on Belarus for the first time ever.
9:15 pm: Formations for both sides!
India (3-4-3): The Blue Tiogers have decided to go with three men at the back, with Thapa and Brandon handling the midfield.
Belarus (4-4-1-1): Belarus has four men in its defence and has Ivan Bakhar leading in the front with Pavel Sedko playing second fiddle.
9:00 pm: Seven Changes for India!
When Igor Stimac said there will be a new team against Belarus, he was not joking. Seven changes from the previous match as the Blue Tigers look for a positive result against first-time opponent Belarus.
8:45 pm: Gurpreet now has a half-century of international caps!
India and Bengaluru FC goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu will play his 50th international when he goes on onto the pitch. The squad has two injuries in the form of Liston Colaco and Jeakson Singh, while defender Rahul Bheke has left the cap to play the AFC Champions League with Mumbai City FC.
8:30 pm: Starting Lineups are out!
India Starting XI: Sandhu (GK), Jhingan, Anwar Ali, Hormipam Ruivah, Akash Mishra, Thapa, Manvir, Brandon, Naorem Roshan, Seriton Fernandes, Suhair VP
Belarus Starting XI: Khatevich(GK), Shevchenko, Yudenkov, Volkov, Begunov, Ebong, Klimovich, Yablonsky, Yuzepchuk, Sedko, Bakhar
There will be a ‘new team’ playing against Belarus, India’s head coach Igor Stimac told the media before the second friendly match in Bahrain in its preparation for the AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers, starting in Kolkata from June 8.
“A new team is coming up against Belarus -- fresh energy of course with those in the middle who did not start in the first game and will now be available who will give us more stability in passing,” Stimac said.
“You will see (Ruivah) Hormipam, you will see Anwar Ali, there will be Roshan (Naorem Roshan Singh) on the pitch also. This time I have more options in the midfield, with Brandon (Brandon Fernandes) and Thapa (Anirudh Thapa) joining us. Jeakson (Jeakson Singh) might also be available for a more creative game. That's what we are looking for,” he added.
Stimac lamented the shortcomings of the previous match that saw India lose to Bahrain 1-2 with the host scoring a late goal.
“The thing I'm most unhappy about is not stopping the crosses coming into the box and conceding two goals at the far post is something unacceptable.”
Strategy for next match against Belarus
The Indian team will go out to take more risks playing from the back, according to Stimac. “We will try to start building up from the back. That is something I've been insisting on from the beginning of our job here,” he said.
“It's difficult to change the mentality and attitude, but it needs to be done only by trying, and friendly games are the best opportunities to do so."
"We need to take the risk, intend to play from the back and try to find those creative players who can damage the opponent.”
He underlined that the team will play attacking football and will reserve set-piece tactics for the decisive matches.
Belarus one step better than Bahrain
“We have made a good analysis of Belarus. They are one step better than Bahrain, technically and with movements,” Stimac said.
“Mostly they defend and play counter-attacking football, but that should not be the case against us because technically they're very good, physically they're strong. They play aggressive football, they don't give you time and space to play possession football,” he added.
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This is the first time India will be playing Belarus, and the Blue Tigers have just one win in its last five matches, which came against Bangladesh in June 2021.
Belarus, on the other hand, has a similar record of wins, coming into this fixture after a 1-0 win over Jordan in November last year.
“ We have got a young squad”
The head coach was all praises for the young faces in the squad, namely Naorem Roshan Singh and Rahim Ali.
Roshan shone on his senior debut against Bahrain. The Bengaluru FC full-back replaced Liston Colaco at half-time and assisted Rahul Bheke with a clinical cross for India's equaliser early in the second half.
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“I'm especially happy about young Roshan, who proved that ISL performances from this season were not a one off scenario for him and that he can do it at the international level as well, which is very good,” Stimac said.
“We gave him an opportunity to show his quality more upfront where he can be more creative and that's exactly what he did.”
He added that Roshan’s extra energy and timings for tackles pleased him the most and also praised Rahim for his physical presence in the final third.
“I want to point out the tremendous work of Rahim Ali, who proved once again that we are right when we see him as one of the most prolific strikers for India in the future,” Stimac said.
“We have got a young squad, which is getting younger every day.”
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