Bengaluru, November 16: India have their task cut out as they take on Jordan away in an international friendly to be held at the King Abdullah II Stadium in Amman on Saturday (November 17)
In addition to the absence of their talismanic striker Sunil Chhetri, who was ruled out due to an ankle injury, the men in blue also had to endure a lot of travelling woes due to the heavy downpour that has lashed all Middle East countries.
Jordan has recently been affected by floods and the Indian contingent, who took a stop over at Kuwait were stranded there too as a result of the flight delays caused by inclement weather.
With coach Stephen Constantine asking for more matches as part of the preparations for the 2019 AFC Asian Cup, the friendly against Jordan does give India an opportunity to test their skills against a superior opponent.
At the AFC Asian Cup to be held in the UAE from January 5 to February 1, India are drawn along with the hosts, familiar foes Bahrain and Thailand.
Constantine was quick to admit that India needs more matches against quality opposition like Jordan.
"Jordan are a good side. They have a number of very very good, interesting, players. The moment that we qualified, I sat down and thought that 'Well, we need to play these teams leading up to the Asian Cup'. It's going to be tough and we're going to be under pressure," Constantine said.
The young 22-member squad which was picked after a short preparatory camp in New Delhi includes the likes of Nishu Kumar (Bengaluru FC), Manvir Singh, Jackichand Singh (both FC Goa) and Germanpreet Singh (Chennaiyin FC) who have been impressive for their respective teams in this season of Hero ISL.
Constantine gave the captain's arm-band to Sandesh Jhingan in India's last international friendly against China despite Chhetri playing that game. India held China admirably goalless in the match held at the Suzhou Olympic Sports Centre Stadium.
When asked who will lead the side out against Jordan, the Englishman suggested his team does not have one specific captain but has many leaders.
"Subrata Paul has been the captain, Sandesh has been the captain, Anirudh Thapa has been the captain, Subhasish Bose has been the captain. What we try to do is, when you've one captain, you generally get one voice and when you have four captains, you get four voices and a bigger opinion from all the players. Sunil is a captain, he will always be the captain, but he'll always be one of the captains," he said.
While ruing Chhetri's absence, Constantine wants youngsters to rise to the occassion.
"Sunil missing is a blow. He's obviously a great player. But it just gives opportunities to some of the other younger players to step up. Hopefully, we can find, not a replacement because I don't think you replace a player of his calibre, but somebody who can fill his shoes," he said.
Jordan vs India, 7.30 pm local time (10.30 PM IST) at King Abdullah II Stadium
Live on Star Sports 3
Live streaming on Hotstar
Goalkeepers: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu (Bengaluru FC), Amrinder Singh (Mumbai City FC)
Defenders: Pritam Kotal (Delhi Dynamos FC), Nishu Kumar (Bengaluru FC), Sandesh Jhingan (Kerala Blasters FC), Anas Edathodika (Kerala Blasters FC), Salam Ranjan Singh (East Bengal), Subhasish Bose (Mumbai City FC), Narayan Das (Delhi Dynamos FC), Jerry Lalrinzuala (Chennaiyin FC)
Midfielders: Udanta Singh (Bengaluru FC), Jackichand Singh (FC Goa), Pronay Halder (ATK), Anirudh Thapa (Chennaiyin FC), Vinit Rai (Delhi Dynamos FC), Halicharan Narzary (Kerala Blasters FC), Ashique Kuruniyan (FC Pune City), Germanpreet Singh (Chennaiyin FC)
Forwards: Jeje Lalpekhlua (Chennaiyin FC), Sumeet Passi (Jamshedpur FC), Balwant Singh (ATK), Manvir Singh (FC Goa)