India vs Pakistan Review: "A common review by an uncommon fan"

India Vs Pakistan, How well did India Play?
"Uncommon Fan", the term used for an Indian Football Fan, as being an Indian Football Fan is hard, and to commit yourself to Indian Football is harder. When major sports channel are showing top class football namely, Premier League match between Manchester United vs Liverpool at the same when India vs Pakistan match is being telecast, that too in a channel like Star Sports 2, which is not very much reachable to Indian viewers, and add to that Indian Hockey team is playing against South Korea in the finals of a major tournament, one have to be brave enough to turn on his TV for the Indo-Pak clash and if his luck runs out due to unavailability of the channel, search through the web to find Live Streaming of the match. After crossing so many hurdles, if the optimistic fan witnesses a school level display from players who collect salary's averaging around 40-50 Lakhs of Rupee's annually, what should be the feeling?

Clinching the match 1-0 against arch rival Pakistan, some would say "lucky" while some would say "3 points is what it all matters", well if you ask the truth to any Indian football fan he would agree with both.  A game that was a high voltage clash because of being an Indo-Pak affair could not lift up to its expected quality, especially from the "Men in Blue".

To cap-off the performance of the Indian Team in the first half, the word that suits the bill is "Dreadful". The team played without any application and commitment which one hopes to believe from any individual playing for his country at the highest level, ignoring the fact that its an "India vs Pakistan match".
Have we managed to improve under Wim Koevermans since replacing Bob Houghton?

The appointment of Wim Koeveramans, after the recommendation of Technical Director Rob Baan was perhaps focused on the aim of importing "TOTAL FOOTBALL" or rather bringing a more fluid style of play. More than the brand name of the Dutch style, the move was cheered by the Indian Football Community who were un-impressed and got tired of the English long ball strategy adopted by ex-head coach of Indian Senior National Team "Bob Houghton". Amazingly, we still got the same old strategy (long ball) each time the Indian team were on the field playing an International Match and the story did not change in this match also. Its not surprising defenders playing the odd long balls to clear the danger, but when the same thing replicates when there is absolutely no pressure on the player, its a worrying sign. The ghost of aimless passing could not be evaded back in Houghton's era and neither it has left the Blue Tigers now. The first half was the most perfect example of the unwanted ghost with defenders and midfielders except a few names like Mehtab Hussain, being the culprits. One just cannot blame the ground conditions for such a horrible display of passing, and neither can they point a finger on the weather as the match was played under floodlights and not under the baking sun. Having Sunil Chhetri and Jeje upfront, and add to that defender of Zesh Rehman's height playing for the opposition, direct or long ball strategy does not prove any point either.
Wasn't he missed? Lalrindika Ralte
If strategy was a concern, so were points like "Team Selection". Choosing N.Mohanraj over Syed Rahim Nabi does not make much sense with exception of having fitness issue with the latter. Mohanraj's inexperience and lack of pace was clearly exposed as Pakistan attacked ferociously from their right side and Mohanraj was nowhere near the quality one could expect from an Indian International. The defense as a whole looked good with Arnab Mondal and Gourmangi Singh making some good tackles and interceptions throughout the match.

Indian fans had worrying signs on their faces with players like Lalkamal Bhowmik(Prayag United) missed the 20 member squad after the squad was announced. But, one name whose exclusion was more of a shock, was the East Bengal midfielder Lalrindika Ralte, whose quality is well know by the Indian Football community. The match against Pakistan also showed the importance of having the quality of Dika, as Francis Fernandes could hardly do much with the ball while he was on the field.

India had only one good thing to show after their first half display, and that was the scoreline reading 1-0 for the Blue Tigers after a defensive howler from Pakistan which gave India the lead.

As Wim Koevermans made some changes in the second half, India's game slowly looked more "Professional" in the second half. The inclusion of Syed Rahim Nabi in place of Mohanraj definitely added more solidity to the Indian defense. Meanwhile, Jewel Raja's presence was never really felt as he was hardly spotted with the ball in the second half after he replaced Alwyn Geroge after the first half. Playing in a crucial position, one should hope to see a midfielder with ample time on the ball which was missing. Lenny Rodrigues however had a better second half after a very very sluggish display in the first half as he linked up well with Mehtab Hossain and added more firepower to the attacking half during the last quarter.

With the amount of chances that fell India's way, one should blame Sunil Chhetri for not only the amount of chances he missed but also for the amount of time he got and for the positions from which he "managed to miss". From a striker of Chhetri's caliber missing those golden chances were not expected and he should be held responsible for the narrow scoreline. But anyhow, one positive thing for Team India was the link up play between Jeje and Sunil which led to those chances.

India's top peformers:
Star of the Match, Mehtab Hossain

Mehtab Hossain: Mehtab Hossain was India's top performer undoubtedly whether it was the commitment in tackles or the force he was to reckon with in the midfield. India's only shining star in the first half, especially in the midfield which lacked any application, Mehtab was in a zone of his own trying to march forward whenever he could with the ball. His passing was much much accurate and Indian players should take some inspiration from the midfield maestro.

Other names who performed really well today were Arnab Mondal, Gourmangi Singh, Nirmal Chhetri, Jeje Lalpekhlua,Subrata Paul.
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