AFC Asian Cup: India eye maiden knock-out berth in clash against Bahrain

The match is all the more special for Indian captain Sunil Chhetri as it will see him equal former captain Bhaichung Bhutia's record of highest appearances for the nation, i.e, 107.   

 AFC Asian Cup: India eye maiden knock-out berth in clash against Bahrain

After going down to hosts United Arab Emirates (UAE) in their second Group A clash of the AFC Asian Cup, the Indian men's football team will look to bounce back and clinch a historic knock-out berth when they square off with Bahrain in their third and final group clash of the tournament at Al-Sharjah Stadium on Monday. 

If India manage to even seal a draw against the 113rd-ranked team, then it will be the first time that the 97th-placed team will book their place in the last-16 of the prestigious football tournament after their failed attempts in 1984 and 2011.

The match is all the more special for Indian captain Sunil Chhetri as it will see him equal former captain Bhaichung Bhutia's record of highest appearances for the nation, i.e, 107. 

The Men in Blue kicked off their campaign in the ongoing tournament with a stunning 4-1 triumph over Thailand in their opening match and they had even managed to outplay UAE in the first half of their second match before their failure to convert half a dozen chances saw them slump to a 0-2 loss. 

Bahrain, on the other hand, began their tournament with a 1-1 draw against the hosts, but they slumped to a 0-1 defeat at the hands of Thailand in their second Group A match to languish down at the bottom of the table. 

If we look at previous records between the two sides, India have sealed just one win out of seven matches they have played against Bahrain so far. The Men in Blue's lone triumph came during an international friendly in Bahrain in October 1979, courtesy Shabir Ali's brace. 

Out of the remaining six matches between the two sides, Bahrain have sealed victories five times while one match ended in a draw. 

Interestingly, India will head into the match on January 14, the same date when they lost to Bahrain 5-2 in the Asian Cup in Qatar in 2011. The Sunil Chhetri-led side will be keen to take avenge of that defeat. 

However, even a loss against Bahrain at Al-Sharjah Stadium on Monday will see India qualify to the round of 16 as one of the four third-placed teams if they do not concede too many goals. 

And if both the sides lose their last group matches, then India will be the third team in Group A due to a better head-to-head record than Bahrain.

The two squads are as follows: 

INDIA

Coach: Stephen Constantine

Goalkeepers: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Vishal Kaith, Amrinder Singh

Defenders: Pritam Kotal, Sarthak Golui, Sandesh Jhingan, Anas Edathodika, Salam Ranjan Singh, Subhashish Bose, Narayan Das

Midfielders: Udanta Singh, Jackiechand Singh, Germanpreet Singh, Pronay Halder, Anirudh Thapa, Vinit Rai, Rowllin Borges, Ashique Kuruniyan, Halicharan Narzary

Forwards: Sumeet Passi, Balwant Singh, Sunil Chhteri, Jeje Lalpekhlua.

BAHRAIN

Goalkeepers: Sayed Shubbar Alawi , Yusuf Habib Hasan , Abdulkarim Fardan 

Defenders: Sayed Mahdi Baqer , Waleed Mohamed Alhayam, Hamad Mahmood Alshamsan , Ahmed Merza Moosa, Ahmed Ali Juma , Sayed Redha Isa , Ahmed Mubarak Bughammar , Ahmed Abdulla Ali 

Midfielders : Sayed Dhiya , Abdulwahab Ali Alsafi , Mohamed Jasim Marhoon , Ali Jaafar Madan , Ali Abdul Haram , Jasim Ahmed Alshaikh , Komail Hasan Alaswad, Jamal Rashed Abdulrahman 

Forwards: Mahdi Faisal Alhumaidan , Abdul Yusuf Helal , Mohamed Saad Alromaihi , Sami Mohamed Alhusaini