AFC Asian Cup: India face tough Australian challenge in Group B opener
The Indian football team will kick start their AFC Asian Cup 2023 campaign against heavyweights Australia at the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan on Saturday.
The Indian football team is poised for a showdown against formidable Australia as they embark on their Group B journey in the AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023 at the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium in Al Rayyan this Saturday. Despite Australia holding the highest rank in the group and India positioned as the lowest-ranked, the Blue Tigers are resolute in their pursuit of making history in their fifth AFC Asian Cup campaign.
Coming off a successful 2023, clinching three silverware and showcasing substantial improvements in the squad, India will be eager to sustain the momentum. The clash with Australia presents an opportunity for a historic victory, setting the tone for a triumphant start to their campaign.
Australia - 25
India - 102
India and Australia have faced each other nine times in the past, and the Blue Tigers have emerged victorious on three occasions. Among these victories, a notable one occurred during the 1956 Summer Olympics fixture, where the Blue Tigers secured a 4-2 win, propelling them to the semi-finals in their most successful Olympics campaign. Additionally, the two teams clashed in the 2011 edition of the AFC Asian Cup, with Australia prevailing with a convincing 4-0 margin.
India and Australia have met only twice in recent times with the Socceroos winning both matches in 1981 and 2011.
Australia - WWWWL
The Socceroos have been in scintillating form recently, facing defeat only once in their last five matches, against England with a narrow 1-0 scoreline back in October 2023. With successive triumphs over New Zealand (2-0), Bangladesh (7-0), Palestine (1-0), and Bahrain (2-0), leading to the AFC Asian Cup, Australia appears poised to pose a significant challenge for India when the two teams clash on Saturday.
India - LWLDD
In their recent five matches, India has secured victory in just one game within regulation time, notably against Kuwait in the 2026 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers, clinching a 1-0 scoreline in November 2023. Preceding this triumph, Igor Stimac's team faced a setback with a 4-2 defeat against Malaysia in the 2023 Merdeka Cup. However, they showcased resilience and success in the SAFF Championship, conquering Lebanon in the semi-final and Kuwait in the final, both decided by penalties. As they take the field on Saturday, the team will be looking to bounce back from a 3-0 loss to Qatar in their second World Cup qualifier game.
Sunil Chhetri vs Harry Souttar
Captain Fantastic, Sunil Chhetri, made his debut for the senior national team in 2005 and has since maintained an unparalleled trajectory. Breaking records and etching his name in history, the 39-year-old stands as India's all-time leading goal-scorer and the fourth-highest international goal-scorer globally.
However, his prowess in the opponent's box faces a formidable challenge against Harry Souttar. The Leicester City FC defender played a pivotal role in Australia's Qatar World Cup 2022 campaign, contributing to two clean sheets in four matches, conceding goals only against powerhouses like France and Argentina. Despite his position as a center-back, Souttar has remarkably scored 10 goals in 21 appearances for the Socceroos.
Mitchell Duke vs Sandesh Jhingan
Duke has netted nine goals in 26 appearances for Australia, with two of them occurring as recently as November 2023, during their commanding 7-0 victory over Bangladesh. He also showcased his scoring ability in a recent friendly against Bahrain.
Duke's goal-scoring proficiency is set to encounter a formidable challenge as he seeks to navigate through the defensive stronghold of Indian center-back Sandesh Jhingan. The FC Goa stalwart has consistently proven himself as a dependable leader in the Blue Tigers' defensive line. Known for his impeccably executed tackles and well-timed blocks, Jhingan has been the bedrock of the Indian defense. The question remains: Can the 30-year-old thwart Duke's attempts to find the back of the net when the two sides clash on Saturday
Date: January 13, 2023
Time: 5:00 pm IST
Venue: Ahmad bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan
Telecast: JioCinema and Sports18