Indian Football: Still The Old Same Problem

Indian Football

Indian Football

India under-23 goes down to Qatar Under-23 in Doha in the first leg of the Olympic Qualifiers.

The Indian Under-23 team failed to impress as they were handed a 1-3 defeat at the hands of Qatar Under-23 team in Doha on Sunday in the first leg. Before the match up, the Indian players looked quite confident and had self-belief that they could do well and get quite a lot of positives from the game. The young players looked in good shape and were all set for an impressive performance.

The Indians were expected to shine and grab something extra-ordinary from the encounter against the Qatar team. Indians had 7 players from the Indian Arrows which added as a plus as the co-ordination between the players bettered.

Both the teams started nervously as there were quite a lot of mistakes on both the ends. India skipper Raju Gaikwad’s long throws troubled the Qatar team as the Indians pressed hard as soon as the game started. India’s efforts were rewarded, as they scored as early in the 8th minute, courtesy to Raju’s long throw-in which resulted in a fine goal by Jeje early in the game. But soon after scoring, India suffered a setback as Qatar was awarded a penalty.

Qatar skipper, Hassan Al Haidous, stepped up to take the penalty but Qatar were denied an equaliser as India’s goalkeeper Kattimani stood strong and saved India from an early setback after taking the lead. However India’s delight of taking the lead did not last long as Qatar scored soon after with a beautiful through pass from the skipper.

After half time, the Indian were outplayed throughout the game. The Indian looked the old same side and failed to dominate and show character after conceding. Qatar played impressive football and dominated possession. What happened next? The same old story with India continued. Let us look at some of the problems which India are used for quite a long time.

Ball Possession is one of the key factors in football. If one needs to create chances and put pressure on the opposition, one needs to keep possession. India had less than 40% ball possession. That says it all. To worsen things, even when India got the ball, it was just wasted away with awful long balls and passes. No short passes were visible. It looked as if none of the players wanted the pressure to keep the ball and attack to put pressure on Qatar. Failure of ball possession resulted in lack of chances and more of pressure on the defenders followed by another goal for Qatar.

Qatar kept on the pressure as the Indians forced to defend. It looked that they just wanted to see off the match and go back to the dressing room. Raju Gaikwad’s throw-ins were the only thing on which the Indian team was depending which later the Qatar side dealt easily with. Even during the throw-ins, the Indian players did not look like attacking the ball and the goal-keeper, which made it easier for the home team.

Long balls—the problem just does not seem to fade away. The Indians were unable to hold on the ball. But we have seen matches where team deprived of major ball possession too emerge as winners. Wondering how?? One needs to create those chances with every little opportunity. It was quite a task for the Indians to do the same. The defenders worked hard to win the ball back. But when the ball was won by the Indians, all they did was playing long balls which hardly went in the right direction. Remember, we are not David Beckhams and Paul Scholes. India just needed to play to their strengths. The long balls never helped which resulted in gifting the ball to the opposition almost every time.

The Midfield—after conceding two, the Indians left a big hole in the midfield which allowed the home side to play the through balls with utmost ease. Qatar created chances time and time again. Another brilliant save followed by Kattimani but later poor defence and midfield resulted in a 3rd goal for Qatar. The midfield area looked out of sorts in the second half which helped Qatar to attack with ease.

Stamina- the Indian Team are always criticised for being unfit for playing the whole 90 minutes. Within 15-20 minutes of the full time, the Indians looked all tired which was quite visible from the body language of the players. They were just trying to keep the ball away from the defence, long balls being prevalent and none of them trying to attack and score a goal which could have made a lot of difference going into the 2nd leg. The players looked tired and were just waiting for the whistle.

At the end, India went down 1-3 to Qatar in the 1st leg. However, Jeje’s away goal can be very vital in the second leg but before that a lot of thinking needs to be done. A change in strategy and game-play may well change the fortunes in the second leg which is to be played in Pune on 23rd of June. Positive approach and better domination of ball can win it for the Indians on Thursday in Pune.

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Ankur Shukla


Hello to each and every sports lover out there. I am Ankur Shukla from Mumbai, 20. I currently appeared for my graduation exams i.e. Bachelor of commerce and economics from Mithibhai Motiram Kundani. I am a sports freak, cricket and football being my first love. I cannot really differentiate between the two. I am an aspiring journalist, a sports journalist. Sports have always been my first love and will continue to be for the rest of my life. Sports always attracted me. It is just within me. I always try to gain knowledge and update myself about recent happening in the sports world. Even before my exams had started, I started working on my writing skills and to my surprise I realised I was pretty decent in it. I was looking for some internship programme where I could sharpen and improve my knowledge and skills. I would really like to thank Sports Mirror for giving me this wonderful opportunity. I am really thankful for the faith they have shown in me, and I promise that I will make the most of this opportunity and contribute in the most effective manner.


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