India vs Saudi Arabia Match Details
Date: Thursday, 28 September 2023
Time: 17:00 (IST)
Venue: Yellow Dragon Sports Centre, Zhejiang
It was a no way a classic but the Indian men’s team marched on to the last 16 stage with a 1-1 draw against a stubborn Myanmar team in the final group game. The Blue Tigers earned a first-half penalty after Rahim Ali was clipped from behind in the box, tucked away everyone’s guesses captain Sunil Chhetri. Ali and Gurkirat Singh both got chances to double up the scores but saw their efforts saved in one-on-one situations. Myanmar troubled India with their pacey attack at times and substitute Yan Kyaw headed the equaliser that gave some rewards for their effort. However, they could not force a winner which could have troubled India’s stay in the Asian Games. Even though both sides ended on the same points and goal difference, Igor Stimac’s side secured the second-berth in the group on the virtue of scoring more goals than Myanmar and gained automatic qualification to the knockouts alongside winners China. The men’s national team will participate in the last 16 of the Asian Games for the first time in 13 years although it will be a huge challenge for them to get past this stage of the competition. That is because they will face Asian heavyweights in Saudi Arabia in the same stadium where they were thrashed by hosts China 5-1 in the opening group game.
The team landed only a day before the game without proper rest, training or proper preparation which has been the scenario for the entire group stage. After qualifying for the last-16, the Indian team got three days to prepare with the first training sessions completed since landing in China. The Blue Tigers are expected to be in a lot better shape with a more settled squad but Saudi Arabia is an opposition that even the best preparation could fall short against them. The Green Falcons also came second in their group behind Iran on goal difference but did not lose any game, conceding just once. They played out a goalless draw against Iran then picked up a 3-0 win over Mongolia and a 3-1 against Vietnam to progress from the group stages. Saudi Arabia are in fine form and it will take something special from India to beat them. With no wins in the past meetings against the Middle Eastern nation, it makes it far more difficult to draw any motivation for the clash. However, the team has made it to this stage without a squad of their liking because of the off-field turmoil and that could insert belief. They have a coach that has led the team, albeit the senior side, to huge feats before so a historic moment could be put into sight.
Goalkeepers: Gurmeet Singh (Hyderabad FC), Dheeraj Singh Moirangthem (FC Goa), Vishal Yadav (Jamshedpur FC)
Defenders: Sumit Rathi (Mohun Bagan Super Giant), Narender Gahlot (Odisha FC) Deepak Tangri (Mohun Bagan Super Giant), Sandesh Jhingan (FC Goa)*, Chinglensana Singh (Hyderabad FC)*, Lalchungnunga (East Bengal FC)
Midfielders/Wingers: Amarjit Singh Kiyam (Punjab FC), Samuel James (Punjab FC), Ayush Dev Chhetri (FC Goa), Abdul Rabeeh (Hyderabad FC), Rohit Danu (Bengaluru FC), Vincy Bareto (Chennaiyin FC), Azfar Noorani (Kenkre FC), Bryce Miranda (Kerala Blasters), Aniket Jadhav (Odisha FC)
Forwards: Rahul KP (Kerala Blasters), Gurkirat Singh (Mumbai City FC), Rahim Ali (Chennaiyin FC), Sunil Chhetri (Bengaluru FC)*
Head Coach: Igor Stimac
Saudi Arabia Squad
Goalkeepers: Mohammed Al-Absi (Al-Shabab), Ahmed Al Jubaya (Al-Qadsiah), Abdulrahman Al-Sanbi (Al-Ahli)
Defenders: Saad Al Mousa (Al-Ettifaq), Nawaf Al-Mutairi (Al-Orobah), Meshal Al-Sebyani (Al-Faisaly), Hussain Al-Sibyani (Al-Shabab), Mohammed Eisa (Al-Shabab), Rayane Hamidou (Al-Ahli), Zakaria Hawsawi (Al-Ittihad)
Midfielders: Mohammed Aboulshamat (Al-Qadsiah), Saleh Aboulshamat (Al-Qadsiah), Ahmed Al-Ghamdi (Al-Ettifaq), Faisal Al-Ghamdi (Al-Ittihad), Musab Al-Juwayr (Al-Hilal), Awad Al-Nashri (Al-Ittihad), Saad Al-Nasser (Al-Taawoun), Abdulmalik Al-Oyayari (Al-Taawoun), Naif Masoud (Al-Qadsiah)
Forwards: Haitham Asiri (Al-Ahli), Mohammed Maran (Al-Nassr), Abdullah Radif (Al-Shabab)Head Coach: Saad Al-Shehri