An entertaining clash on the cards in final game of Group E
Riding on a Sunil Chhetri brace, India managed to register their first victory of the 2022 FIFA World Cup and 2023 AFC Asian Cup joint qualifiers, when they beat Bangladesh last Monday. The victory puts India in 3rd place in Group E with just one game to play.
They will look to carry the momentum when they face Afghanistan in the final game of Group E in Doha. If they can avoid defeat in this game, India can qualify directly to the third round of the 2023 Asian Cup qualifiers.
Dushanbe, Tajikistan hosted India and Afghanistan’s clash from this group earlier in 2019. Zelfy Nazary gave Anoush Dastgir’s side a lead just before the half-time break but India bounced back late in the game, thanks to a header from Seiminlen Doungel three minutes into stoppage time.
This was a crucial goal for the Blue Tigers, who are now still in with a chance to finish as high as 3rd in Group E.
Like Afghanistan, India also registered their first and only win of the Group campaign against Bangladesh, just a week ago. A dominant display along with the goal scoring heroics of Chhetri means that the momentum going into this game is with Igor Stimac’s side.
The two teams have squared up on eight previous occasions. India have been victorious six times with the only loss coming in the 2013 SAFF Final. India will look to extend that impressive run when they meet at the Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium on Tuesday.
Like Qatar, who have cemented their place at the top of the table with 22 points in Group E, Oman, who have 15 points on board, are sure to finish 2nd. But India and Afghanistan, separated by just a point, will fight for third place and a chance to qualify directly to the third round of the 2023 Asian Cup qualifiers.
— #AsianCup2023 (@afcasiancup) June 12, 2021
Incidentally, India, who have a negative goal difference of 1, have a chance to finish a tournament with a positive goal difference.
HFC in Doha
Though the loss to Qatar to start off the month was a real dampener, Team India bounced back in fine fashion to put in a strong display against Bangladesh a week ago. Bangladesh had their half-chances, but India were a constant threat in front of goal. Stimac’s men troubled their midfield and backline, to show how tough a side they are to beat.
But one of the biggest talking points from that game was Hyderabad FC star Chinglensana Singh, who put in a complete performance at the back. India’s No. 4 maintained a passing accuracy of 82% while winning six duels and four tackles to add to five clearances. Surely, he will have a huge role to play against a free-flowing side like Afghanistan.
Playmaker Mohammad Yasir came on at the start of the second half and was an influential presence for the Blue Tigers. Defender Adil Khan also got a few minutes under their belt late on while Akash Mishra remained an unused sub.
Where to Watch
Tomorrow’s Qualifier kicks off at 7:30 pm IST and will be telecasted live on the STAR network, with live streaming on Disney+ Hotstar and Jio TV.