Blue Tigers lived up to the expectations in their last World Cup Qualifier against Bangladesh, courtesy to two goals scored by talismanic striker Sunil Chhetri. Now the focus is being shifted towards the crucial game against Afghanistan, which will decide the fate of India in the AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers. Getting a single point would be enough for India to directly qualify for the third round of the AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers. Still, the fans are hoping to get 3 points against Afghanistan. Here are the five key battles one should look for as an Indian Football fan.
5. Chinglensana Singh vs Amredin Sharifi
Chinglensana Singh will lock horns with Amredin Sharifi. Amredin plays for Kyrgyzstani football club NEFTCHI Kochkor-Ata and has played two games for them. Chinglensana, who recently debuted for the Indian team, was part of young Hyderabad FC, who narrowly missed the chance to qualify for the semi-finals. It would be interesting to see whether Chinglensana can get the better of Amredin.
4. Brandon Fernandes vs Masih Saighani
The next battle is between Brandon Fernandes and Masih Saighani. Brandon Fernandes of FC Goa hasn’t played most of the ISL but has three assists to his name. He was the only assist provider for India in World Cup Qualifiers before the Bangladesh game, and he was the sole provider of goals for FC Goa in the AFC Champions League. He played exceptionally well in the last World Cup Qualifier.
On the other side, Masih Saighani, who plays for Bangladesh Premier League side Abhnani Dhaka Ltd, can play as a defensive midfielder and centre-back. Masih Saighani is familiar among Indians as he previously played for Indian clubs like Chennaiyin FC and Aizawl FC. Being a defender, he scored four goals and gave an assist this season for Abhani Dhaka. It would be a delight for fans to watch when Brandon and Masih face each other.
3. Pritam Kotal vs Hossein Zamani
Next up is the battle is in the wings. It is the battle between Iranian-born Afghan winger Hossein Zamani and Indian right-back/center-back Pritam Kotal. Hossein Zamani has played his club football in Europe. He is an Ajax youth product. He played football in the Netherlands and Italy. After a brief stint with Italy’s Genoa U19 team, Zamani has signed for the SC Telstar club, which plays in the 2nd division of the Netherlands. He has scored six goals and provided two assists this season.
On the other side, Pritam Kotal has been a part of the most successful defense in ISL playing with ATKMB. In World Cup Qualifiers, he has been influential for India. It will be a mouth-watering battle between Zamani and Kotal.