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Asian Games 2023: Without Single Training Session And Proper Rest, India Face Formidable China In Football Opener

Set to play their opening match without any training session and proper rest after the last-minute announcement of the squad, India will be the clear underdogs against formidable China in their Asian Games group game in Hangzhou on Tuesday. India were able to stitch a rag-tag final squad only on Friday and the team left for China on Sunday, leaving no time for the players to even have a training session together. Moreover, two players -- defenders Konsam Chinglensana Singh and Lalchungnunga -- out of the 22 players picked will join later as their visas were not ready. The Indian contingent's chef de mission Bhupinder Singh Bajwa has, however, said that the duo will get their 'express visas' in a day or two and they will join the team.

In any case, the duo will not be available for the Group A match against China on Tuesday and that will be a blow for India. Also head coach Igor Stimac said on Sunday that senior defender Sandesh Jhingan and talismanic striker Sunil Chhetri will not play the opening match to save them for the later two matches.

Chhetri has started training just a couple of weeks ago as he needed time with his family after becoming a father recently.

Stimac's move is understandable as India have more chance to win against Bangladesh (September 21) and Myanmar (September 24) than against China, and considering that the team will take on the hosts without proper rest and training. The head coach was forced to have strategy sessions inside the aircraft and at the airport.

It will have to be seen whether Stimac sticks to what he had said or field Jhingan as defenders Chinglensana and Lalchungnunga will not be available for Tuesday's match. Already, he is facing the problem of full backs and central midfielders