2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers Desperate India up against a rejuvenated Afghanistan

Indian head coach Igor Stimac has asserted that he would be quitting his post if the country fails to progress in the qualification process.

Updated - March 27, 2024 06:48 pm IST

Published - March 26, 2024 12:46 am IST - Guwahati

Getting into rhythm: The Indian players go through their drill in Guwahati on Monday.

Getting into rhythm: The Indian players go through their drill in Guwahati on Monday. | Photo Credit: Ritu Raj Konwar

India sought to infuse vibrant hues to its 2026 FIFA World Cup qualification campaign where it faces a rejuvenated Afghanistan in a second-round match of Group A, at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium, here on Tuesday.

The Holi celebrations provided the perfect ambience for the Indian squad to renew its promises for a better result after having played out a drab goalless draw against the same opponent while visiting its makeshift home in Saudi Arabian city of Abha barely four days ago.

The match here assumes importance for India which is looking to make it to the next stage (round three) of the World Cup qualifiers — which also doubles up as the qualification round for the final stage of the 2027 Asian Cup — for the first time.

Indian head coach Igor Stimac has asserted that he would be quitting his post if the country fails to progress in the qualification process. Stimac, who has a contract as the Indian head coach till 2026, believes that the team can advance to the next stage if it delivers to its potential.

A win against Afghanistan at home will consolidate India’s position in the second spot where it currently lies after three rounds with four points in its kitty. Two teams will progress from each group in the current second round engagements.

India began its campaign with a lot of promise as it beat a strong Kuwait 1-0 away on Nov. 16, 2023. It lost to the current group leader and Asian Champion Qatar 0-3 (on Nov. 21, Bhubaneswar) before picking up another point against Afghanistan in its second away game at Abha.

Chhetri, who will be earning a historic 150th cap in India colours, wished that his team makes it memorable with a win against Afghanistan.

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