Kolkata (West Bengal) [India], June 11 (ANI): Indian men's football team face Afghanistan in their second match of the third round of AFC Asian Cup qualifiers on Saturday at the Salt Lake stadium in Kolkata.
The Blue Tigers who beat Cambodia in their first match on Wednesday could take a giant step towards confirming their presence in next year's AFC Asian Cup finals with a victory on Saturday.
India head coach Igor Stimac sounded confident ahead of the match against Afghanistan but also showed plenty of respect to their opponent as he addressed their physical attributes during the pre-match press conference on Friday.
India and Afghanistan recently clashed in the FIFA World Cup qualifiers with both the encounters between them ending in 1-1 draws. Stimac's men left it late to equalise in the first game in Dushanbe in 2019 before Anoush Dastgir's team came back to level it at 1-1 in the reverse game in Doha in 2021.
Afghanistan though suffered a shock 1-2 defeat against Hong Kong in the last match and nothing less than a win will keep their chances of qualifying for the AFC Asian Cup finals alive.
India came into the match in mixed form as they have lost three and won two of their last five matches. However, all their defeats have come away from home and against stronger opposition. They will be looking to build on their 2-0 win over Cambodia in their last match.
Afghanistan has only managed to win one game in their last five encounters. The win came against the Kuwait U-23 side. Their last match was against Hong Kong which they lost 2-1.
India and Afghanistan have faced each other on nine occasions. In those nine encounters, India came on top in four while Afghans managed to win three, and two matches ended in a draw. The last time India faced the Lions of Khurasan was in 2019 in FIFA World Cup Qualifiers at the Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium in Doha, Qatar. The match ended in a 1-1 draw. (ANI)