India Eyes World Cup Qualifying History in Afghanistan Clash

India Eyes World Cup Qualifying History in Afghanistan Clash

India's football team is gearing up for their crucial World Cup qualifying matches against Afghanistan, with the aim of securing a spot in the third phase of the qualifiers for the first time. Coach Igor Stimac emphasized the team's determination to win the upcoming games and progress to the next round.

India will face Afghanistan in back-to-back matches as part of the 2026 FIFA World Cup and 2027 AFC Asian Cup joint qualifiers round 2. The first match will be held in Abha, Saudi Arabia on March 21, while the second will take place in Guwahati, India on March 26.

Stimac acknowledged the team's disappointing performance at the AFC Asian Cup in January, but stressed that their focus is now on the upcoming qualifiers. "We are not a club that can work with the players on a daily basis," he said. "The expectations were high without any base."

India currently stands level on three points with Kuwait in Group A, but has an inferior goal difference. A top-two finish in their group will guarantee progression to Round 3 of the qualifiers, which will also ensure direct qualification for the AFC Asian Cup 2027.

Stimac highlighted the challenges of playing in Abha, which is located at a high altitude of 2,270 meters. "Afghanistan did everything to make it difficult for us," he said. "Choosing Abha as their home venue was a clever decision."

Despite the challenges, Stimac expressed confidence in his team's ability to overcome the obstacles and secure a positive result. "We are going there with a clear mindset, and we're looking for the points," he said. "Most of our boys are in decent form at their clubs, and hopefully we can overcome all difficulties and find a way to manage the game in a positive way."

The Indian team is set to travel to Abha on a chartered plane for their first match against Afghanistan. Stimac believes that the team has the potential to make history by reaching Round 3 of the qualifiers for the first time. "They all have the same dream, so we don't need to inject any motivation into them," he said. "We have never made it to Round 3 before, and if we do that, it will then give them new dreams, to qualify for the World Cup in the future."

Tags: #IndianFootball, #WorldCupQualifiers, #Afghanistan, #IgorStimac, #AFC

Read more