After clinching the Hero Intercontinental Cup, the India men's football team will now turn their attention to their opening game of the SAFF Championship against arch-rivals Pakistan at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru on Wednesday.

The Blue Tigers demonstrated great courage as they reclaimed the Hero Intercontinental Cup in a dominant fashion, defeating Lebanon 2-0 in the final. Under the guidance of head coach Igor Stimac, the team showcased their potential in the previous two tournaments. India will be eager to sustain the momentum and build upon their success as they prepare for the upcoming AFC Asian Cup 2023 in Qatar in January.

The much-anticipated match between the two sides, after a five-year hiatus, is expected to be an epic encounter.

Head-to-Head Record

The Blue Tigers maintain a strong advantage over Pakistan in their head-to-head record. The two sides have faced each other 24 times, with India emerging victorious 11 times, while Pakistan has managed to win only three times. The remaining 10 matches ended in draws.

In their most recent five meetings, the Blue Tigers have secured victories four times, while Pakistan has managed to win just once. The latest encounter between the two teams took place in 2018 during the SAFF Championship, where India emerged triumphant with a 3-1 scoreline.

Form Guide

India: WWWDW

The Blue Tigers kick-started their preparation for the AFC Asian Cup by securing victory in the Hero Tri-Nation tournament earlier this year. They continued their impressive form in the recent Hero Intercontinental Cup triumph. Moreover, Stimac’s men have not conceded a single goal in their last six games. This exceptional record will certainly boost their confidence as they aim to emerge victorious against their arch-rivals and begin the tournament with a win.

Pakistan: LLLLL

Pakistan are currently going through a difficult phase, having lost all their previous five games. They are yet to taste victory in 2023. The Shahzad Anwar-coached side recently participated in the Mauritius Four Nations Cup, which featured teams such as Djibouti, Mauritius, and Kenya. However, the Pakistani Falcons faced defeat in all three games.

Key Battles

Sandesh Jhingan vs Hassan Bashir: Jhingan has made a significant contribution to India's impressive run of six consecutive clean sheets. The centre-back was rock-solid at the back for the Blue Tigers in the Hero Intercontinental Cup, and his impressive performance earned him the Hero of the Tournament award. Now, his task will be to contend with Pakistan's skipper, Bashir. The 36-year-old, who is capable of playing in various attacking positions, has been one of their main men for scoring goals over the years.

Sunil Chhetri vs Easah Suliman: The Indian skipper, who was the joint top goalscorer in the Hero Intercontinental Cup with two goals, will face off against the towering centre-back Suliman. Chhetri, who found the back of the net in his debut game against Pakistan, will be eagerly looking to score against them once more.

Suliman, a 25-year-old defender born in Birmingham and starting his youth career at Aston Villa, recently made his debut for the Pakistan national football team in a 1–0 friendly loss to Kenya. He will have his work cut out to challenge the highest goalscorer of India.

Match Details

Fixture: India vs Pakistan

Date: June 21, 2023

Time: 7:30 PM

Venue: Sree Kanteerava Stadium, Bengaluru

Telecast: Fancode