Indian football team captain Sunil Chhetri analysed both the positives and negatives following their defeat to Australia in the AFC Asian Cup 2023 opener. The Blue Tigers succumbed to a 0-2 loss against the Socceroos in the opening game of Group B at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Qatar on Saturday.

Despite facing a side ranked 77 places above them in the FIFA Rankings, India put up a commendable performance in the first half, maintaining a goalless scoreline through determined defending. However, they conceded twice in the second half, with both goals resulting from their own mistakes.

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Chhetri found himself isolated in attack for India, as Igor Stimac’s side had only a handful of chances in a game predominantly dominated by Australia. The 39-year-old had an early opportunity to put India ahead when he connected with a deflected cross, but unfortunately, his header went off target.

Reflecting on the team’s performance, Chhetri acknowledged that it was a new experience for the Blue Tigers and emphasised the learning opportunity from their mistakes.

“There are pros and cons to this game. It’s not easy to play the best teams in Asia. We are not used to playing sides like these, as we don’t play against them very often, so you never know what to expect,” he said in an interview with

“It’s a mixed bag of feelings right now. Once we watch the videos, perhaps we will gain more confidence and work on the things that we could have done better,” he said.

Looking ahead, India is set to face Uzbekistan, a team also ranked significantly above them in the FIFA Rankings. Stimac’s side will be eager to secure a win, reigniting their hopes of qualifying for the knockout stages. Uzbekistan share a similar goal after being held to a goalless draw by lower-ranked Syria in their first game of the AFC Asian Cup.

Chhetri recognised the distinctiveness of Uzbekistan as a team compared to Australia but is well aware that the upcoming challenge won't be any less demanding for his side.

“Uzbekistan are not Australia, but they’re a good side nonetheless. So it will be a big challenge in that game too,” Chhetri said.