India Vs Uzbekistan – Can Blue Tigers’ Defense Hold Firm?


India and Uzbekistan have experienced disappointing beginnings to their AFC Asian Cup 2023 journey. India suffered a 2-0 defeat against the Australians, and Uzbekistan missed an opportunity to take advantage of their match against Syria, resulting in a goalless draw. While India was unable to maintain their courageous first-half defensive performance throughout the game, Syria, on the other hand, successfully frustrated the Uzbek team for a more extended period and eventually secured a point from the game.

As Uzbekistan gears up to face India, they will be determined to secure all three points to avoid falling behind Australia, who currently lead the standings. Conversely, India must secure a victory to stay in the tournament; failure to do so would almost certainly lead to an exit. The upcoming match between Igor Stimac’s men and Skrecko Katanec’s Uzbekistan promises to be intense, with both teams eager to claim a vital three points. Indian supporters will likely harbor optimism, considering the team’s resilience, at least during a portion of the match against the Australians.

Head to Head

India and Uzbekistan have met six times, with the latter emerging victorious in four instances and the remaining two matches ending in draws. The initial two draws occurred in their first encounters during the Nehru Gold Cup and a friendly game. Subsequently, India suffered defeat in four consecutive matches, including the 1999 Asian Cup.


Their most recent clash took place 23 years ago in 2001 during the Merdeka Tournament, where Uzbekistan secured a 2-1 victory, with I.M. Vijayan scoring India’s sole goal. This upcoming fixture holds significance as it marks the first meeting between India and Uzbekistan in quite some time. The Blue Tigers will be eager to alter their string of misfortunes against Uzbekistan and aim for a more positive outcome this time around.

Recent Form

Uzbekistan has remained unbeaten since their 3-0 loss to the USA in September of the previous year. Over the subsequent eight games, they secured five victories and three draws, defeating teams such as China, Vietnam, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Palestine. During this period, they scored a total of 17 goals, while their opponents managed to score eight in response.


As for the Blue Tigers, they have won three of their last six games but suffered defeats against Qatar, Malaysia, and Australia. Despite winning both the semi-final and final of the SAFF Championship on penalties, they were eliminated from the Merdeka Cup by Malaysia. Their recent two World Cup Qualifiers included a victory against Kuwait, but Igor Stimac’s team failed to Qatar, losing by three goals.

Read: Asian Cup 2023 – India’s Brave Stand Against Socceroos

Predicted Line Up

India XI – Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Rahul Bheke, Sandesh Jhingan, Nikhil Poojary, Subhashish Bose, Deepak Tangri, Suresh Wangjam, Apuia, Lallianzuala Chhangte, Manvir Singh, Sunil Chhetri


Uzbekistan XI – Yusupov, Eshmuradov, Khusanov, Ashurmatov, Alidzhanov, Sayfiev, Shukurov, Hamrobekov, Masharipov, Urunov, Erkinov

What the coaches said

Ahead of the clash with Uzbekistan, India’s coach, Igor Stimac, recoginzed Uzbekistan as a strong and competitive opponent, and highlighted the added pressure they face after failing to secure a win in the tournament’s opening match, “Uzbekistan is a very good and competitive side. The recent results prove what kind of strength they have. They didn’t gain the victory in the opening game of the tournament, which will have them under pressure.


Stimac suggested that his team should be prepared for a high-pressing game from the very beginning and stressed the importance of finding effective ways to counter this strategic approach. Stimac also disclosed that Sahal is still unavailable, and a couple of players are dealing with issues from the previous game against Australia.

Discussing strategy, Stimac hinted at a shift towards a more offensive mindset. Reflecting on the Australia game, he voiced dissatisfaction with the second-half performance, underscoring the need for more deliberate and dynamic plays, “We are looking for more attacking-minded players because, after analysing the game, we had many situations where we could, instead of just kicking the ball forward, we could find three players in front of us on the flanks. I was not happy because there was no intention to do that in the second half.”


Looking forward to the upcoming match, Uzbekistan’s coach, Srecko Katanec, emphasized the need for hard work to find spaces against India’s organized defence, underlining the importance of patience over the 90 minutes to create opportunities, “Tomorrow’s game will be completely different. India play a very organized and aggressive brand of football. We have to work hard to find the spaces. It will be a difficult game for us but we have to be patient in those 90 minutes to find our chance.

Katanec also conveyed that there is no undue pressure on his team, framing the match as just another game in the tournament, “We are not under pressure. We just have to be positive. It’s just another game for us in the tournament. And it’s up to the players how they perform in the game.

IFTWC’s Match Prediction

Speaking realistically, expecting a victory for India against Uzbekistan seems unlikely. Nevertheless, considering Uzbekistan’s recent goal-scoring struggles against Syria and India’s initial display of exemplary defense, there is a slim chance for Igor Stimac’s team to make an impact. The momentum was disrupted by an error from Gurpreet against Australia, but India’s defense was air-tight except that and thus there remains a glimmer of opportunity.


However, IFTWC predicts a 2-0 victory for Uzbekistan. India’s attack absolutely lacked promise against Australia, and such a performance is unlikely to yield positive results against Uzbekistan.

Follow IFTWC for more news on Indian football.

Anurag Guha
Anurag Guha
Loves Indian Football and cars that go vroom vroom

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