Hosts UAE stir from slumber, stumbling Syria sack Stange

Hosts UAE stir from slumber, stumbling Syria sack Stange”

"The Syrian Arab Football Federation has made a decision to dismiss coach Bernd Stange", said a statement on the organisation's Facebook page, adding that former national coach Fajr Ibrahim would take charge for the final Group B game against Australia.

The English coach began his second spell in charge of the Blue Tigers in 2015 and has restructured the organisation around the team, taken the side into the top 100 of FIFA's rankings and delivered a first win on the continental stage since 1964 - Sunday's 4-1 triumph over Thailand.

As far as the Indian team is concerned, Sunil Chhetri hogs the limelight wherever he goes, and the Blue Tigers will again look up to him upfront.

India captain Sunil Chhetri overtook Lionel Messi in global goals as the Blue Tigers stunned Thailand 4-1 in their opening game to earn comparisons with Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli for his heroics.

India surprised many with their opening game win.

It is better still for the team that for all his achievements over the years, Chhetri remains grounded. Udanta Singh passed the ball to Anirudh Thapa on the right flank and he sent in a curling cross, only for Chhetri to hit the ball straight at the keeper. The quick one-two between them opened up the UAE defence and released Udanta on goal. It was a soft goal to concede, killing the momentum India had created. More of the could be expected against a superior opponent in UAE.

Midfielder Ismail Hammadi is also a key player in UAE's scheme of things. Assisted by Ali Ahmed Mabkhout.

Commemorative coins are to be minted and placed into circulation to mark the Asian Cup being held in the UAE.

Stephen Constantine has reinvigorated the Indian team with a lot of energy and counter-attacking strategy. The central defensive pairing of Sandesh Jhingan and Anas Edathodika will be kept busy at the back, and so could be goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu.

That's not to say the coach won't acknowledge the significance of the win over Thailand: "We've finally got respect for Indian football, we've woken the sleeping giant". The hosts are already under pressure from media and fans after an underwhelming start to their campaign and anything short of a win will put their hopes of qualifying to next round in trouble. However, we are not trying to get carried away with the emotion. His results have been poor - the 1-1 draw against Bahrain in the tournament opener meant that in 12 matches since the beginning of 2018, UAE have only won two friendlies against Yemen and Laos, besides prevailing over Iraq on penalties in a Gulf Cup semi-final.

Only time will tell what's in store.

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