India seek improved performance against Belarus in second international football friendly

MANAMA: A close 0-1 defeat against Bahrain in their previous match notwithstanding, India would look to dish out an improved show against higher-ranked Belarus in their second international football friendly here on Saturday.
Six players could not accompany the team that left Mumbai on Monday due to visa issues but they reached here on the day of the Bahrain match on Wednesday, with only Anirudh Thapa and Aniket Jadhav being able to play in that game against the hosts, that too in the second half.
But against Belarus, head coach Igor Stimac is expected to use the services of Indian Super League-winning side Hyderabad FC defender Chinglensana Singh as well as midfield lynchpin Brandon Fernandes, who were among the six who landed here on Wednesday.
Sandesh Jhingan and Chinglensana have formed a formidable centre-back pairing for the Blue Tigers in the past and they are expected to team up at the deep defence against Balarus, who are ranked 10 places above India at 94th.
But Stimac will be without the services of another defender, Mumbai City’s Rahul Bheke, who scored India’s lone goal against Bahrain.
Stimac had earlier said that three Mumbai City players will leave Manama after the Bahrain match for their side’s AFC Champions League preparations.
Another Mumbai City player Bipin Singh, however, did not travel to Manama. He was one of the seven players who did not accompany the team due to visa issues and there was no point for him to travel to Manama to reach on match day (against Bahrain) and then return back.
Stimac gave international debut to five players — Anwar Ali, Danish Farooq, VP Suhair, Aniket and Roshan Singh — in the match against Bahrain and he is expected to hand Kerala Blasters defender Ruivah Hormipam his first match in India colours against Belarus.
He is expected to field Jeakson Singh also against Belarus as he tries out as many players who did not get game time against Bahrain.
The coach had said that he would give game-time to almost all the 25 players — save the goalkeepers — in the two friendly matches in Manama to check out various combinations ahead of the Asian Cup final round qualifiers in June in Kolkata. —PTI

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