King’s Cup 2023 – India faces stern Iraq test


The Blue Tigers are set to take on Iraq in the King’s Cup which is scheduled to take place in Thailand’s most prestigious International tournament. India are set to field their senior team for the third time in this cup tournament, previously finishing third on both occasions in 1977 and 2019 respectively.

This will be the 49th edition of the King’s Cup whose current champions are Tajikistan while the hosts Thailand who have won the championship 15 times hold the record for the most successful team in the tournament. Hosts Thailand, Iraq, Lebanon and India are the participating teams in the current iteration of the tournament.

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Sandesh Jhingan and Igor Stimac in training

Current Form

India is in hot form considering the fact that they are currently unbeaten in their last 11 games. They have also wrapped up three tournaments this year grabbing the trophies in the Intercontinental Cup, the Tri-Nations Tournament, and the SAFF Championship. For these reasons, the Blue Tigers are on a high note morally and physically to face an even solid Iraqi side.

But, it will be a test to watch as the Blue Tigers will face the absence of their captain and leader Sunil Chhetri who is out of the squad because of personal reasons. Apart from that, players like Amrinder Singh and Subhasish Bose haven’t travelled despite being picked for the squad. High-scoring winger Lallianzuala Chhangthe and wingback Akash Mishra are not expected to start the game as things stand which will be an issue for them.

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Jesus Casas and Igor Stimac in the pre-match press conference.

Iraq on the other flip side is coming after two very tough games against World Cup sides Colombia and Russia and losing both games. But, the Iraqi side showed the prowess to match up with the high-intensity physical game of both their International opponents. Former FC Barcelona’s match analyst, scout and Spain national team’s assistant manager Jesus Casas has been in charge of the Iraqi side for the past 11 months.

He has won the Gulf Cup for the side defeating Oman in the finals. Under him, Iraq has lost only two games out of 7 winning 4 of them. Barring those stats, the Iraqi side has some serious talents under their belt including players who are currently donning the jersey in the top 5 leagues in the world. Zidane Iqbal, a 20-year-old former Manchester United and current FC Utrecht player is one of the top prospects for the side in green. Aymen Hussein, who is currently the top scorer for the national side with 14 goals is another name to watch out for the Blue Tigers.

Battle of India’s Midfield and Iraq’s Attack

The game will be intense with India who are strong in their midfield with the likes of physically solid Jeakson Singh and Suresh Wangjam with creative output expected from Brandon Fernandes, Anirudh Thapa and Sahal Samad. On the other side, the Iraqi side is strong with explosive wingers and forwards at their disposal with the likes of previously mentioned Zidane Iqbal, Aymen Hussein and current AFC Wimbledon player Ali Al-Hamadi. India has to find their way around the Iraqi back line which is equally solid and resilient as their defensive counterpart.

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The Blue Tigers in training.

Probable Lineups

India XI

Gurpreet (GK), Nikhil Poojary, Sandesh Jinghan, Anwar Ali, Ashique Kuruniyan, Jeakson Singh, Suresh Wangjam, Brandon Fernandes, Anirudh Thapa, Sahal Abdul Samad, Manvir Singh

Iraq XI

Jalal Hassan (GK), Mustafa Nadhim, Ali Faez, Ali Adnan, Amjed Attwan, Osama Rashid, Ibrahim Bayesh, Hasan Raed Matrook, Zidane Iqbal, Aymen Hussein, Ali Al-Hamadi

IFTWC’s prediction

It will be a very hard game for the Indian side against the Iraqi side who are one step higher than the Blue Tigers in multiple departments on the field. Unless the Indian side puts on a scintillating show, we expect Iraq to win the game in a 2-0 goal margin.

Where to watch?

The game will be played on September 7, 4.00 pm IST at Chiang Mai Stadium, Thailand which will be live telecasted on Eurosport TV and streamed on FIFA Media Plus TV.

Follow IFTWC for more news on Indian football

Rejin T Jays
Rejin T Jays
Kerala Blasters Supporter💛 and Indian Football Fan💙

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