“But that is something we want to face and that is why we are playing international friendly against them. I don’t expect my players to control the game but we have to find a way to compete against them.” A tougher opponent than Oman by his own admission, but it will not stop Stimac from bringing in new players from his 27-man squad in the match against UAE. He said even senior defender Sandesh Jhingan will not start while goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu is set to play instead of Amrinder Singh and captain the side. “We are going to see everyone who did not play in the first game in the match against UAE. These are friendly matches which I will use to find out the best (players) for the upcoming matches (World Cup qualifiers). I can tell you Sandesh is not going to be involved against UAE. I will have to play Adil Khan also. It will not be justice to the remaining players if they are not fielded in these friendly matches.”
UAE are one of the strongest sides in Asia and they reached the semifinals in the 2019 Asian Cup they hosted. But they have been struggling a bit recently. In the four international matches they have played after the Covid-19 lockdown, they have lost twice – against Uzbekistan and Bahrain – and won one – against Tajikistan. Their last match – against Iraq – had ended in a goal-less draw in January.
India squad: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Amrinder Singh, Subhashish Roy Chowdhury, Dheeraj Singh, Ashutosh Mehta, Akash Mishra, Pritam Kotal, Sandesh Jhingan, Chinglensana Singh, Adil Khan, Mandar Rao Dessai, Mashoor Shereef, Rowllin Borges, Lalengmawia, Jeakson Singh, Raynier Fernandes, Anirudh Thapa, Bipin Singh, Yasir Mohammad, Suresh Singh, Halicharan Narzary, Lallianzuala Chhangte, Ashique Kuruniyan, Manvir Singh, Ishan Pandita, Hitesh Sharma, Liston Colaco.