After a disappointing start to the Intercontinental Cup campaign, Indian football team will look to bounce back against the North Korean side. In the opening game against Tajikistan, the hosts, India suffered a heavy defeat despite going 2-0 up at half-time. India yet again put up a dismal second-half show as they lost out on steam and concentration. India let in 4 second half goals which led to India’s 4-2 drubbing at the hand of lower ranked Tajikistan.
India would now take on North Korea, a side that would also be looking to reunite after a 5-2 thrashing at the hands of Syria. However, Syria are quite higher ranked than the DPR Koreans.
The Indian side had put up a solid performance in first half which gave them a 2 goal lead but lapse of concentration in second forty-five allowed the Tajikistan to crawl their way back and slowly get on top of the game. The North Korean side also suffered the same fate, after taking the lead in the opening five minutes, when the Syrians came back hard to score five.
India will face North Korea on 13th July at 8 p.m. IST and the fans of the Blues would be hoping for a better and more compact show.
India is currently ranked at 101 in the latest FIFA rankings, while the North Korean side is ranked 122 in the World. India will be the obvious favorites going into the match but recent matches have shown the defensive frailties in the team which the North Korean attackers would look to capitalize on. North Korea will step out on the field to set the record straight after losing their last 4 games by big margins.
The TransStadia Arena in Ahmedabad hosted its first International match on 7th July. More than 7000 people came to see Indian football team play for the first time in Gujrat. As always, the fan group of Indian football team, Blue Pilgrims, was present in large numbers. The rise of ISL and I-League has led to increase in the viewership and following of the game and also, the creation of many fan clubs, thus developing a footballing culture in the nation.
Intercontinental Cup was held last year in Mumbai where a number of fans turned up to see an undefeated Indian side lift the cup. This time around as well, in Gujrat, the Cup has attracted the masses. From Viking Claps to creating Tifos in stadium, Indian football has come a long way.
The style of play has changed a lot under the new head coach Igor Stimac, who is still in the process of identifying his best 11. Stimac is trying and testing combinations, but wants to stick to his brand of football and develop that among the players. What we saw under Constantine was more of long ball football with less emphasis on passing, but that has now seemingly, completely changed.
Stimac has introduced a completely new philosophy in Indian Football. Now the team looks to start out from the back through the two center backs and one touch quick passing in the midfield to put the attackers in scoring position. However, this system has created defensive vulnerabilities in the team, which is understandable given the process takes its course and hopefully, should be resolved with time.
More of such style of football is expected against North Korea with better defensive oraganisation. India would be looking to dominate right from the start and keep their concentration right till the end to get themselves off the mark in Hero Intercontinental Cup 2019.