After a family house in Manipur’s Churachandpur district burned down and a soccer field was damaged, Singh withdrew from the SAFF Intercontinental Cup and SAFF Championship in June and July. India won both the tournaments with Sandesh Jhingan and Anwar Ali as the first-choice central defenders.
On Thursday, Singh, Lalchungnunga and Jhingan could make up a trio of defenders as India try to optimize their meager resources. Singh, 27, was included in the squad for the Asian Games late and arrived in Hangzhou on Wednesday. With Sumit Rathi, the backup left-back, unlikely to recover from injury in time for the opening match against China and no defensive specialist in the squad, a trio of defenders is the most likely option for Indian head coach Igor Stimac.
According to a team spokesperson, other changes are also likely. Gurmeet Singh, who saved a penalty but looked tentative during Tuesday’s 1-5 defeat, could be a lockThe Indian Under-17 national team and Goa club goalkeeper Dhiraj Sinha.
If India opt for five midfielders, it could mean Amarjit Kiyam and Ayush Dev Chhetri will play in the center while Bryce Miranda, who showed good work ethic against China, and Abdul Rabih will play in the fullback position. Against China, Rabih played in the right-back position but prefers to play at the top of the pitch. It was Rabih’s lob that was the assist for Rahul KP when India equalized for the hosts and the score remained 1-1 till the 52nd minute. According to a team official,
Rahul may come on as a substitute along with Sunil Chhetri, while Rohit Danu will play behind the forwards. Aniket Jadhav, Narender Gehlot and Gurkirat Singh are unlikely to feature in Thursday’s early game (1:30 p.m. ET kickoff) as they are expected to arrive at the venue a few hours before kickoff.
Bangladesh lost 2-4 to Myanmar in their opening match. India hadBangladesh is 18-5 against Bangladesh, with 12 matches ending in a draw.
The top two teams from each of the six groups and the top four third-placed teams advance to the round of 16. India have not made it out of the group since the 2010 Games.