The Indian men’s senior national team are back in action as they take the field against East Asian side Mongolia in their Hero Intercontinental Cup opener at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar, Odisha on Friday.

Fresh off winning the title in the Hero Tri-Nation Cup held at the Khuman Lampak Stadium, Imphal back in March, the Blue Tigers will be eager to keep the momentum going in their contest against the Blue Wolves. 

With the AFC Asian Cup, scheduled to be held in January, in sight for head coach Igor Stimac, the Croatian believes the tournament will serve extremely critical for their preparation and isn't taking a single game for granted.

"Although our opponents (in the Hero Intercontinental Cup) are not as tough as the teams we'll face in the Asian Cup, they're still good and competitive. Mongolia are a very aggressive side with a lot of young players in midfield and upfront. They press high press and play counter-attacking football," stated Stimac in the pre-match press conference.

Led by Japanese head coach Ichiro Otsuka, Mongolia are fairly new entrants in the footballing fraternity, getting affiliated with FIFA back in 1998. Currently placed 183rd in the latest FIFA rankings, they are the lowest ranked team in the tournament, and will feature in the international competition for the first time.

"All the other three teams are ranked higher than us. But we will fight and try to have better games against them. We're very motivated to showcase our football here," Otsuka said in the pre-match press conference.


Interestingly, this will be the first-ever meeting between the two sides, so fans can expect a cracking game. 

Form Guide

India: WWWWW

Currently on a five-game winning streak, the Igor Stimac-led side have been in a rich vein of form since their AFC Asian Cup Qualifier round, having beaten the likes of Cambodia, Afghanistan, and Hong Kong. Subsequently, the side was also triumphant in the Hero Tri-Nation Cup, securing clean sheet victories against Myanmar and the Kyrgyz Republic. The Blue Tigers netted 12 goals and conceded just one goal in their last five games.

Mongolia: LDDWD

The Blue Wolves recorded just a solitary victory in their last five outings. The side faced an outright 6-1 defeat against Georgia, their first-ever UEFA opponent. Having participated in the Toyama International Cup, the side won against Toyama Daiichi High School but drew against Kataller Toyoma Under 18s and Toyoma Shinjo. Preceding this, the side also drew level with the Chinese Taipei U23s in a friendly. 

Key Players


Sunil Chhetri: The 38-year-old has been at the forefront of goals for the Blue Tigers in the Hero Intercontinental Cup, racking up 11 goals, most for the team and most by any player in the competition. His impressive record will be essential in restoring the title back to India, having played a vital role in their title triumph in the inaugural edition back in 2018.

Lallianzuala Chhangte: The pacey winger has been a livewire for his club Mumbai City FC in the Hero ISL 2022-23 season, scoring 10 goals and supplying six assists across 22 games. Chhangte’s unpredictable left foot coupled with his clinical shooting abilities can prove to be a nightmare for the Mongolian defenders. 


Nyam Osor Naranbold: Having made more than 20 appearances, the forward is the top goalscorer for the national team with seven goals to his name and is a major threat in the Mongolian forward line.

Tsend-Ayush Khurelbaatar: Captain of the Mongolian side, the 33-year-old plays across the midfield line and dictates the game from within. With over 30 appearances, Khurelbaatar is the senior most campaigner in the team. 

Match and Telecast Details

Match: India vs Mongolia

Date: June 9, 2023

Venue: Kalinga Stadium, Bhubaneswar

Kick-off time: 7:30

Telecast: Star Sports 2 and Star Sports 2HD

Online Streaming: Disney+Hotstar & JioTV