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Indian football team eyes flair over grit in upcoming AFC Asian Cup 2023 matches

Published at :January 16, 2024 at 1:24 AM
Modified at :January 16, 2024 at 2:14 AM
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Ashish Negi


After a resilient stand against Australia, India prepare for key battles with Uzbekistan and Syria.

The Indian football team, following a robust performance against Australia in the AFC Asian Cup 2023, are now shifting their focus. Despite a 2-0 defeat, the Blue Tigers produced a commendable defensive effort, particularly in the first half, which earned them praise from fans and rivals.

The match at Ahmed bin Ali Stadium attracted 36, 253 fans, making it the second-most attended game of the tournament so far. The Indian team, dubbed the Blue Tigers, impressed with a stout defensive display in the first half, keeping Australia at bay.

Recognition from Australia

Australia’s Jackson Irvine, awarded ‘Man of the Match,’ complimented India when asked by Khel Now at the post-match press conference about how far India are from top-level Asian football. “They played exceptionally well…They tested us like top Asian teams,” he noted.

Coach Stimac’s Mixed Feelings

Indian coach Igor Stimac, while disappointed with the second half, was proud of the team’s initial performance. This game allowed Stimac to showcase India’s capabilities on Asia’s biggest football stage.

Stimac and the fans alike view the upcoming matches against Uzbekistan and Syria as the real test for India. “Our tournament starts now,” said the Croatian, indicating a shift towards a more attacking gameplay.

Strategic Changes Ahead

Stimac’s strategy involves enhancing the team’s passing dynamics and introducing fresh talent. This approach is underscored by the data revealing that the top five passing combinations for India against Australia predominantly involved goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu and the defenders, with only Apuia from the midfield. Apuia, notably, had an impressive 96% passing accuracy. Yet, he lacked options for progressive passes.

Passing chain data for Australia vs India
Passing chain data of Indian team vs Australia

To support Apuia in midfield, Stimac is considering players like Sahal Abdul Samad, Brandon Fernandes, Akash Mishra and Anirudh Thapa, who are known for their forward-thinking passing abilities.

Injury Updates and Recovery

With Sahal racing to be fit for the Uzbekistan match and concerns over Akash Mishra’s injury in training, team selection remains crucial. Earlier today, concerns were raised about Akash Mishra, who made a positive impact coming off the bench against Australia, following reports of an injury sustained in a training session on January 14th. Mishra, a vital component of the team’s strategy, was reportedly injured in a tackle involving teammate Mahesh.

However, sources close to Khel Now have alleviated these concerns, stating, “His injury isn’t as serious as initially feared.” This update will bring relief for the Indian football team and its supporters, as the team remains optimistic about Mishra’s recovery and potential participation in the upcoming crucial matches.

Conclusion: A Turn Towards Attacking Football

As the Indian football team recalibrates for the challenges ahead, they took a strategic pause from training on January 15th. This rest day is seen as a crucial period for recovery and strategy refinement. The team are set to resume their training regime on the following day, reinvigorated and focused on the upcoming matches.

With the coaching staff and players fine-tuning their approach, the Indian football team are gearing up to demonstrate a blend of tactical acumen and spirited football in the crucial encounters against Uzbekistan and Syria.

The matches against Uzbekistan and Syria are not merely games, they represent a pivotal moment for India to make a statement in Asian football. With strategic changes and a focus on offensive prowess, the Blue Tigers are ready to showcase their skills and ambition on the continental stage.

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