Dubai, March 28
On a high after an impressive 1-1 draw against the fancied Oman, India are pitted against the formidable United Arab Emirates in their second football friendly here tomorrow, with head coach Igor Stimac again set to experiment with a fresh set of rookies.
Ten players made their debuts against Oman on Thursday as India made a fine comeback in the second half to hold a team ranked 23 places above them on the FIFA charts.
Oman completely dominated the first half with the Indians not being able to hold the ball for any length of time. The visitors were rather busy defending in their own half in their first international outing in more than a year.
The UAE are ranked eighth in Asia and 74th overall while India are 104th. The UAE had won three matches out of the four played between the two sides in the last decade while one game ended in a draw.
But India will draw inspiration from their match against UAE during the 2019 Asian Cup group stage where they had created a lot of scoring chances even though they lost 0-2. India paid dearly for poor finishing in that match and luck didn’t favour them as two shots hit the framework.
“UAE are even tougher than Oman, so I except a very tough match tomorrow. They (UAE) are technically better side, play quicker football and they will give a lot of pressure on us,” Stimac said. “But that is something we want to face and that is why we are playing international friendly against them.”
Despite the tougher match, Stimac will still be bringing in new players from his 27-man squad tomorrow.
He said even senior defender Sandesh Jhingan will not start while goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu is set to play instead of Amrinder Singh and captain the side. — TNS, Agencies