India are set to travel to Afghanistan’s adopted home in Dushanbe in Tajikistan for their fourth match of the joint World Cup and Asian Cup qualifiers. The Blue Tigers are fourth in Group E with two points in three games, while Afghanistan are ahead of India with three points at the third position.
After losing to Oman 2-1 in Guwahati in the opening fixture, India surprised everyone by holding Qatar in Doha for a goalless draw. However, the Blue Tigers with high expectations went on to draw with minnows Bangladesh in Kolkata. The neighbours were leading with one goal most of the time before a late Adil Khan header saved the day for India. India’s shaky defence in the absence of Sandesh Jhingan struggled a lot and with the experienced defender still missing, the defence will be a huge burden for Igor Stimac yet again.
On the other hand, Afghanistan started their campaign with a huge loss to Asian Champions Qatar 6-0. However, they beat Bangladesh 1-0 before falling to the gulf nation Oman 3-0 in Muscat. The war torn Afghanistan is playing their home games in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, owing to security reasons and they will take on India.at the Central Republican Stadium in Dushanbe on artificial turf.
For India, Goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu is the key player in the squad. The big custodian has made so many crucial saves in the qualifiers, most of which came.against Qatar, which saved the day for India. Moreover, captain Sunil Chhetri who scored the first goal of ISL on the last match day against Chennaiyin and will be the target man for India in the attacking third.
Afghanistan’s Haroon Amiri has played in the I-League and in the ISL with FC Goa in the first season. He will be the crucial player for the Afghans in the defence. Currently, he is with I-League side Gokulam Kerala. Another player to watch out for is the only goal scorer for Afghanistan in the qualifiers, F Arshad Noor who is plying his trade in Europe. The striker have previously played for the Netherlands under 17 squad.
Igor Stimac has a big headache in finding a suitable replacement for injured Sandesh Jhingan. The shaky defence struggled against Bangladesh who conceded a silly goal. Moreover, with the absence of defensive midfielder Rowlin Borges Stimac may use Rowlin’s Mumbai partner Raynier Fernandez at the defensive midfield.
Head To Head
India and Afghanistan have faced each other eight times and the Blue have won six times with their last meeting was in the SAFF cup final in Trivandrum which turned into India’s favour but 2-1. India have only lost to Afghanistan one time and the other one went to draw.
Afghanistan : L-W-L
India : D-D-L
Afganistan: Ovays Azizi (GK) Hassan Amin, Haroon Fakhruddin Amiri, Najim Haidary, Farzad Ataee; Noor Husin, Adam Najem, Farshad Noor, Norlla Amiri, Faysal Shayesteh; Zubayr Amiri.
The former player of Afghanistan is just 29-year-old. The Kabul born coach has experience in the Netherlands and was promoted from the Assistant of national team to the head coach. His style of play is controlling the game in the midfield.
The Croatian coach who took over the reigns from Englishman Stephen Constantine after the Asia Cup has created a new India. The former Croatian defender is transforming the Indian style of play with a passing and possession based game.
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