Football

WC Qualifiers | Inconsistent India faces Afghanistan

Men at work: India needs nothing less than a win in its crunch World Cup qualifying round match against Afghanistan.

Men at work: India needs nothing less than a win in its crunch World Cup qualifying round match against Afghanistan.  

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India began the second round of the qualifiers with a narrow 2-1 defeat to higher-ranked Oman before a memorable but goal-less draw against Asian champions Qatar in Doha in September

Struggling to find consistency in a winless campaign so far, the Indian football team needs nothing less than a win in its crunch World Cup qualifying round match against Afghanistan to be played in freezing temperatures here on Thursday.

India began the second round of the qualifiers with a narrow 2-1 defeat to higher-ranked Oman before a memorable but goal-less draw against Asian champions Qatar in Doha in September.

The good show in the first two matches raised hopes of a possible third-round berth, but a 1-1 draw against Bangladesh in Kolkata on October 15 came as a dampener.

Had it not been for Adil Khan’s last-gasp header (88th minute), Igor Stimac’s side would have utterly disappointed the capacity crowd at the Salt Lake Stadium that day.

The team is now at fourth place in the Group E table with two points from three matches. With the runner-up in the five-team group not even assured of a third round slot, India cannot afford to lose against Afghanistan.

Afghanistan, which is 149th in FIFA rankings against India’s 106, is placed third in the group with one win and two losses.

Stimac understands the situation his team is in, that it cannot afford to slip at any cost.

“It will not come to us, rather we need to go and snatch it. It’s always about us and our performance to achieve something,” the Croatian said.

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Printable version | Dec 13, 2019 5:22:35 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/football/wc-qualifiers-inconsistent-india-faces-afghanistan/article29965896.ece

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