Indian Men’s Football Team head coach Igor Stimac has announced India's 26-member squad for the AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023, which kicks off in Doha on January 12, 2024, with the tournament's final set to be played on February 10, 2024.

The Blue Tigers have been drawn into Group B alongside Australia, Uzbekistan, and Syria.

The players and the support staff are expected to arrive in Doha later on Saturday, marking their fifth appearance in the Asian Cup.

Although the team has shown great performance throughout 2023, Stimac looks forward to further development before stepping onto the field for the tournament. 

Highlighting their scope for improvement, he shared, “The things we are looking to work on are defensive compactness, offensive transitions, and the set pieces, mostly. It will be very important to work on man-marking inside the box because I was not happy with that part of our game. In the last few games, we started leaking some unnecessary goals inside the box."

“All three of our opponents are very good technically, physically stronger with great speed. So, we are not going to have much difference in approach to all these three games, I can tell you that. We need to check the fitness level of our players at present and see how much we can develop in the next two weeks,” he added. 

India have experienced playing in Qatar quite a few times recently, playing four of their 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers matches there, including two against the hosts. Boosting their morale further, Sunil Chhetri and Gurpreet Singh Sandhu were part of the Indian squad at the 2011 AFC Asian Cup which was also held in Qatar where Chhetri scored a goal each against Bahrain and South Korea. 

Expecting great support from the Indian fans in Qatar, the Croatian tactician said, “I'm looking forward to seeing our Indian fans in Doha. They came in massive numbers to support the Indian team during the qualifiers, and that was one of the reasons why we had two great performances against Qatar here. So, I'm well aware that there will be massive support for our boys. Hopefully, we can pay them back and celebrate some good results.”

Following are India’s fixtures in the group stage:

January 13, 2024: Australia vs India (IST 5:00 pm, Ahmad bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan)

January 18, 2024: India vs Uzbekistan (IST 8:00 pm, Ahmad bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan)

January 23, 2024: Syria vs India (IST 5:00 pm, Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor)

The 26-member list is as follows:

Goalkeepers: Amrinder Singh, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Vishal Kaith.

Defenders: Akash Mishra, Lalchungnunga, Mehtab Singh, Nikhil Poojary, Pritam Kotal, Rahul Bheke, Sandesh Jhingan, Subhasish Bose.

Midfielders: Anirudh Thapa, Brandon Fernandes, Deepak Tangri, Lalengmawia Ralte, Liston Colaco, Naorem Mahesh Singh, Sahal Abdul Samad, Suresh Singh Wangjam, Udanta Singh.

Forwards: Ishan Pandita, Lallianzuala Chhangte, Manvir Singh, Rahul Kannoly Praveen, Sunil Chhetri, Vikram Partap Singh.