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All-round sloppy display costs India against Bangladesh

2:24 AM SGT 16/10/19
India Bangladesh
India succumbed to a second consecutive draw in Group E...

For the 61000 odd supporters who turned out to cheer for India at the Salt Lake Stadium on Tuesday, the ninety minutes of football made for odd viewing. Igor Stimac's India was starting to be recognized as a team comfortable on the ball but that version did not turn up in Kolkata. 

After promising displays in recent games, the game against Bangladesh was the odd one out. Of course, Adil Khan's late header helped India avoid a home defeat but their third Group E 2022 FIFA World Cup and 2023 Asian Cup joint qualifier did not go according to plan. 

While the loss to Oman and the heroic display against Qatar which resulted in a goalless draw showcased India's ability to stand up and fight against bigger teams, the Blue Tigers failed to shift their mentality against Bangladesh whom they were expected to beat at home. 

The failure to change the mentality against a team which was happy to sit back and counter, combined with sloppy passing in all areas of the field resulted in a disappointing affair which India were lucky to get a point from. 

The first half was a throwback to pre-Igor Stimac era, with numerous long balls aimed at Manvir Singh at every opportunity to break forward. Sunil Chhetri, playing in behind Manvir, couldn't pick up layoffs and Manvir himself wasn't much of a threat to Bangladesh goalkeeper Ashraful who enjoyed a fairly easy outing. Though the player put in a good shift, hustling the defence, and had a header on target, India could not threaten the Bangladesh goalkeeper much.

Jamie Day's team was prepared to get men behind the ball and defend, suffocating India in the attacking third and denying them easy pickups in and around the box.

They were regularly making inroads at the other end of the field as well, with Mohammad Ibrahim, Nabib Ziban and Saad Uddin all having a say in the proceedings going forward. 

The second half had India passing the ball around more often but the Bangladesh defence stood firm. Things weren't working for India and the Sahal Samad-Anirudh Thapa combo in midfield wasn't strong enough to control the game against an opposition that had no qualms about not having the ball. The need of a third midfielder was dearly felt as the game wore on without offering India much in the way of chances to score. 

It could be said that Rowllin Borges' suspension did cost India more than Sandesh Jhingan's absence through injury.

Adil Khan scored a late near-post header from substitute Brandon Fernandes' corner-kick, which was a result of sustained pressure by India in the closing stages of the game. It has given India a point which might not be enough in the grand scheme of things in Group E of the World Cup qualifying round.

It is clear that Stimac's project will take time but this draw will feel like a defeat. It was clearly a bad day - nothing more, nothing less - at the office.