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India vs Lebanon semi-final: 5 points you should know.

Updated: Jul 27, 2023


India vs Lebanon

India played their semi-final match against Lebanon & after quite an end-to-end encounter, India won the game on a tie-breaker. India won it 4-2 in the tie-breaker. Almost 20,000 fans filled the stadium, which is fascinating to watch Indian football. In 2017 Sunil Chettri requested the fans to come and watch matches of the Indian football team as stands used to be empty then. Now 6 years after things from the support side have changed quite a bit. off course the gameplay style has also changed for the national team. Let's look at the 5 things we should know from the India-Lebanon encounter in SAFF 2023.


Gameplay & Results :


India started the game rather in a very poor fashion. Mehtab the replacement for Sandesh Jinghan was giving away the ball to Lebanon by miss passing in India's own half. For the first 15 minutes it was all Lebanon and the Indian defense somehow prevented them from scoring including Lebanon missing a sitter from inside the penalty area.



Slowly India started to grow into the game and along with that Mehtab also stopped doing those mistakes at the back while buildup. In the 1st half, the process through which India was trying to buildup according to their buildup plan and pattern was completely wrong, maybe due to a lack of tactical awareness of the players. Also, the pragmatic wingbacks were not helping India in the buildup. But India looked different from the second half as the tactical mistakes were rectified and also because soon after our 1st choice modern fullbacks were brought onto the field.


Their good tactical understanding of both the wings and the overlapping and underlapping runs they started to make was helping India a lot to build up, create chances and threaten Lebanon's defense. In the second half and extra time, India looked the better side.


Final Third Issue :


This is the most concerning factor for not only the national team but for Indian football as a whole, which I have derived after closely following Indian football for some time. The Indian players mostly become clueless in the final third leading to either easily losing the ball to opponents or do poor finishing. It may be a problem with the quality of coaching our Indian players get from the grassroots and the youth. The football federation needs to address this problem or in the future, we would suffer badly.



Yesterday also team India after some great, quick transitions and buildup from the defensive players were looking clueless in the final third, and loosing the ball at the critical moments, leaving open the defense to face threatening Lebanon's quick counters. If India could have buried India's chances, they wouldn't have to play till the tie-breaker. This concerning issue needs to be addressed as soon as possible for the progress of the country's football.



Key Players against Lebanon :



Anwar Ali- The 21-year-old modern ball-playing center-back was a treat to watch. From his career on the verge of being ended due to a heart issue to becoming a permanent starter for the National team at the age of 21, he struggled and came a long long way. His defensive side was as good as his ball progression up the pitch. On the ball, he is so confident which makes him very a providing progressive passes to the midfield or to the attackers. His long diagonals to the wingers were so perfect, which left us speechless.



Gurpreet Singh Sandhu- He is the wall at the goal. He has been India's 1st choice goalkeeper for a long time. Yesterday he made 2 wonderful saves to keep India in the tie and when it came to penalties he denied the Cedar's captain H.Mathouk which probably would have shaken the confidence of the rest of the Lebanese players during the shootout.


Other mentions: Both Akash Mishra & Nikhil Poojari did affect the play quite a lot positively in India's favor after they came on. Mahesh also brought impact into the midfield after he came as a substitute into the midfield.


Burning Passion :


Once again Bengaluru didn't let the team down as almost 20,000 supporters turned up in Shree Kanteerva in the SAFF semi-final match. There were pre-planned chants, tifos, and a lightning atmosphere in the stadium throughout the 120 mins. People were also singing AR Rahman's version of " Vande Mataram" on the stands. Slowly but steadily the football support culture is developing in India.



Yesterday the burning passion within the fans, players, coaching staff, and AIFF management was prominent. When India won the match, coach Igor Stimac jumped off his feet, AIFF president Kalyan Chaubey and AIFF secretary Shaji Prabhakaran hugged the head coach. Then the head coach who has been suspended went to the field and celebrated the victory from the sidelines with the players. The Vibrations of the unique Vykings clap in Indian football could be felt from outside the stadium. Such passion from the top hierarchy was, is, and will be needed to take the football of the country forward.


Asian Cup ahead:



The games India has played so far have been good for the preparation for the Asian Cup which will be in January 2024. The players should take confidence from this win but should not get complacent before the King's Cup, Merdeka Cup, and Asia Cup which the Indian national team would be playing in the coming months.



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