Lebanon vs India: Preview and Prediction
India is coming into this match on the back of a sensational performance against a comparatively much stronger opponent in Iraq. However, conceding untimely penalties and not being clinical enough cost them a place in the final.
As for Lebanon, they suffered a shock defeat against a weaker opponent in Thailand and will be disappointed with how they performed in that 1-2 defeat at the semi-final clash.
What have they done so far?
India arrived in Thailand without their usual captain, Sunil Chhetri, who stayed back home to be with his family during the birth of his first child. Despite such a big miss, the team did turn up against a strong Iraq team.
Igor Stimac’s men took the early lead through a Naorem Mahesh Singh goal, before conceding a penalty, and with it their lead as well. A Jalal Hassan own goal helped them take the lead again, but yet another controversial penalty in the 80th minute restored parity in the match. In penalties, Brandon Fernandes struck the woodwork for India, while all five of Iraq’s takers were on target.
Lebanon came into this competition after losing out in the semi-final of the SAFF Championship and was desperate to make it to the final here. That was not to be, as they went down to a 1-2 defeat.
An own goal by defensive midfielder Jihad Ayoub got the Cedars off to a horrendous start, but Bangkok United attacker Bassel Jradi drew level for Aleksandar Ilic’s team in the second half. However, a late winner from Teerasil Dangda ruined Lebanon’s plans.
Head to Head Record
For one reason or another, India and Lebanon have been facing one another quite frequently these days, but history shows meetings between the two teams have not been that frequent. In fact, they have only met 9 times, of which 3 were this year itself.
There is also absolutely nothing to separate the teams, with Lebanon and India both winning 3 games each, while the other 3 games ended in a draw. In the last meeting, which was at the SAFF Championship semi-final, India won 4-2 on penalties.
Considering there is not much at stake in this fixture, with the chances of lifting the trophy already gone, Igor Stimac might consider making changes to his line-up.
Sandesh Jhingan might be handed rest and in his place, Mumbai City central defender Mehtab Singh could get the nod. The double pivot of Jeakson Singh and Anirudh Thapa could be replaced by Suresh Singh Wangjam and Rohit Kumar. Rahul KP and Rahim Ali could possibly come in for Ashique Kuruniyan and Naorem Mahesh in attack respectively.
Along similar lines, Ilic is also expected to make plenty of changes to his team. Two of them could be in defense, with Kassem El Zein and Mahdi Zein expected to replace Ayoub and Hussein El Zein respectively.
Though he scored in the last match, Jraidi did not look particularly impressive. He could have to make way for Daniel Lajud, with Mohamad Haidar replacing Hasan Srour. In attack, Majed Osman and Karim Darwiche could come in place of Hilal El-Helwe and Soony Saad.
India (4-2-3-1): Gurpreet Singh Sandhu; Asish Rai, Mehtab Singh, Anwar Ali, Akash Mishra; Suresh Singh Wangjam, Rohit Kumar; Rahul KP, Sahal Abdul Samad, Manvir Singh; Rahim Ali.
Lebanon (4-3-3): Mostafa Matar; Nader Matar, Walid Shour, Kassem El Zein, Mahdi Zein; Ali Tneich, Mohamad Haidar, Daniel Lajud; Karim Darwiche, Majed Osman, Hassan Maatouk.
Taking on Lebanon in Thailand is not the same as facing the Cedars in their own backyard but we have predicted the Blue Tigers to give a tough fight in this match considering how India has played in recent months.