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India play out goalless draw against Afghanistan in FIFA World Cup Qualifiers

The Blue Tigers have climbed to the second spot in Group A of the ongoing FIFA World Cup 2026 Qualifiers after playing out a goalless draw against Afghanistan. They are only behind Qatar who are yet to concede a game.

Kumar Rupesh Written By: Kumar Rupesh @afiestysoul New Delhi Published on: March 22, 2024 7:33 IST
India vs Afghanistan.
Image Source : INDIAN FOOTBALL TEAM India vs Afghanistan.

The Indian football team played out a goalless draw against Afghanistan at the Damac Stadium in Abha, Saudi Arabia and missed a wonderful opportunity to earn three valuable points in the ongoing FIFA World Cup 2026 Qualifiers.

A win would have helped the Blue Tigers take a three-point lead over Kuwait in Group A, who were occupying the second spot earlier. Though India have still moved past Kuwait and are now second on the table, they just have a one-point lead.

The game began on an aggressive note as India looked to assert dominance over their Asian neighbours. Vikram Pratap Singh, who found a place in the starting XI for the very first time in his playing career managed to impress and kept the Afghan defenders on their toes alongside Manvir Singh.

The Blue Tigers were in control of the game in the first half, however, the Afghans also got their fair share of opportunities.

Lallianzuala Chhangte, Manvir and Nikhil Poojary created a few scoring opportunities for the Blue Tigers but they all went begging as Afghanistan's defence never lowered its guard down.

Afghanistan's head coach Ashley Westwood's strategy worked wonders in the game for his side and the encounter really tested India as their skipper Sunil Chhetri had anticipated in the lead-up to the fixture.

"They will play like a unit, they will be aggressive, they will know exactly what they have to do because that's how Ashley Westwood is. But I think it's more about us. We are here right in the corner of Saudi Arabia and we really have to bounce back after what happened in the Asian Cup. It's not going to be easy. We have to turn up," Chhetri had told AIFF.

India XI:

Gurpreet Singh Sandhu (GK); Nikhil Poojary, Rahul Bheke, Anwar Ali, Akash Mishra (Subhasish Bose 60’); Lalengmawia Ralte, Jeakson Singh Thounaojam (Deepak Tangri 74’); Lallianzuala Chhangte (Mahesh Naorem 74’), Sunil Chhetri (C), Manvir Singh (Liston Colaco 74’); Vikram Partap Singh (Brandon Fernandes 60’).

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