Kick-off is now a little over 20 minutes away. This Indian football team has grown as a side in recent times but should they make the knockouts of the Asian Cup, they will be in unchartered territory. No Indian side has managed it thus far.
Without Thapa – who is undoubtedly the most creative midfielder India have – it will be interesting to see just how India set up in midfield. One gets the feeling the forward line will have to work extra hard today.
One change to the starting line-up: Rowlin Borges comes in for Anirudh Thapa.
— Indian Football Team (@IndianFootball)
India may again deploy a defensive approach and hit on the counter against a physical Bahrain as they need just a draw while it is a must-win for the West Asian side as they are with just one point from two matches after their 0-1 loss to Thailand.
But even a defeat on Monday may still see India (3 points from 2 matches) through to the knock-out rounds as one of the four third-placed teams if hosts United Arab Emirates (4 from 2 matches) beat Thailand (3 from 2 matches) in Al Ain in the other Group A match to be played simultaneously.
A draw against the West Asian side, currently ranked 113, will be enough for India (ranked 97) to qualify for the round of 16 for the first time in the continent’s showpiece event after failed attempts in 1984 and 2011.
India will still be fired up by the prospect of a maiden knock-out round berth when they take on Bahrain in their final Asian Cup group league match. Hello and welcome to our live coverage of the match.