India will play Afghanistan on Saturday in its second Group D game in the 2023 AFC Asian Cup qualifying match at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata. The Indian national team’s AFC Asian Cup 2023 qualifiers campaign got off to an ideal start with a commanding 2-0 win over Cambodia.
Both the goals were scored by captain Sunil Chhetri. The Blue Tigers sit in first place in Group D after the opening round of matches, but the journey to qualification is still far from finished. India still have two games to play and next up is a hungry Afghanistan side that started their campaign with a 1-2 loss against Hong Kong.
NEWS ABOUT THE TEAMS
INDIAN NATIONAL TEAM
India marked their return to home soil with a very comfortable win over Cambodia in their first AFC Asian Qualifier group game. It marked their first win at home after almost four years. Their last home win was back on 10 June 2018, against Kenya in the Intercontinental Cup final. The Blue Tigers will have spring in their steps with the win.
Anything but a victory would’ve been a poor start to the group stages and crumbled up unnecessary pressure. But now they are the ones going into the game in a confident fashion and high in momentum as well. Stimac’s side are currently topping their group after the opening game win. Another commanding win can help them take one step closer to securing qualification, especially if Hong Kong drop points against Cambodia in their next game.
Knowing the surprise package Hong Kong have proven to be, India cannot drop points in this either. They will face a charged-up, passionate Afghanistan side yearning for a win and revenge. But India needs to keep a cool head, follow the plan and use the passionate crowd’s energy to get a crucial win and take another step closer to confirming their place in the 2023 Asian Cup.
Midfielder Lalengmawia Ralte remains out of the qualifiers with an injury. Rahul Bheke, Deepak Tangri, Chinglensana Singh, and Hormipam remain uncertain, and Roshan Singh, who picked up a slight knock in the last match, may start on the bench.
AFGHANISTAN NATIONAL TEAM
Afghanistan go into this game with their backs on the wall. The opening day loss to Hong Kong was surely not in their plans. The Lions of Khorasan created a lot of big chances in the game but just weren’t clinical enough to outscore their opponents. But they did put up a brave display by playing encouraging, attacking football against Hong Kong. It’s perhaps a preview of how they’ll play against the Blue Tigers as well.
Afghanistan are desperate for a win, which means they won’t just sit back and look to hit on counter-attacks. They have some attacking talents that will want to prove their quality against India. Anoush Dastgir’s men are vying for revenge after being unable to defeat India in the FIFA World Cup qualifiers group stages.
Afghanistan have drawn their last two games against India, but that won’t be enough this time. They’ll have to take the fight to the hosts, put them under intense pressure as well as identify and capitalize on their weaknesses to get the win and keep their Asian Cup qualification dreams alive.
Afghanistan, which presently ranks third in the Group D table, has no significant injury concern and coach Anoush Dastgi will most likely have his full squad to choose from.
Matches Played: 10
Matches Draw: 3
India Wins: 6
Afghanistan Wins: 1
India (ranked 106th) and Afghanistan (ranked 150th) have met 10 times, out of which the Blue Tigers have won six times. Afghanistan has won one and three matches have ended in a draw. The Blue Tigers have scored a total of 33 goals and the Lions of Khorasan have scored eight.
Both teams met for the first time in the 1951 Asian Games semifinal in New Delhi. India won the match 3-0 with Pansanttom Venkatesh, Sheoo Mewalal, and Santosh Nandy scoring for the host. The last time both teams met, the match ended in a 1-1 draw. Technically both goals in the match were scored by the Lions of Khorasan. Goalkeeper Ovays Azizi of Aghanistan scored a horrendous own goal while Hossein Zamani scored the equalizer to end the game in a draw.
FORM GUIDE (Last 5 Matches)
Indian National Team
- Win: India 2-0 Cambodia
- Loss: India 0-2 Jordan
- Loss: India 0-3 Belarus
- Loss: Bahrain 2-1 India
- Win: India 3-0 Nepal
Afghanistan National Team
- Loss: Hong Kong 2-1 Afghanistan
- Loss: Vietnam 2-0 Afghanistan
- Loss: Afghanistan 0-1 Jordan U-23
- Win: Afghanistan 3-0 Kuwait
- Draw: India 1-1 Afghanistan
India’s morale will be high after winning its opening qualifying match against Cambodia. However, despite the win, the Blue Tigers were wasteful with their chances, and Chhetri, in his post-match comments, said that his team couldn’t utilize its chances to the maximum. While Afghanistan would be eager to bounce back, which makes for a potentially feisty encounter between the two teams.
PROBABLE STARTING LINEUPS
IFTWC’s MATCH PREDICTION
India can’t expect the game against Afghanistan to be as comfortable and relaxing as it was against Cambodia. The Lions of Khorasan have faced the Blue Tigers on many occasions in recent years and have a good understanding of their strengths & weaknesses. It will be a good game for the neutrals but a nervy game for the fans of both nations.
With pressure mounting on them, Afghanistan will look to take the game to India. They’ll attack in numbers, press high and make things uncomfortable. The Indian players have to dig deep, be clever with their attacking patterns & decisive in the final third to get a result. All in all, this should be a thrilling battle decided on the small margins. IFTWC predicts a 1-0 win in favour of India.
MATCH AND TELECAST DETAILS
Match: India vs Afghanistan (2023 AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers)
Date: June 11, 2022
Venue: Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan (Salt Lake Stadium) in Kolkata, India
Timings: 8:30 PM IST.
Live Telecast and Streaming: Star Sports 3 (Live Telecast), Hotstar and Jio TV (Live Streaming)
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