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AFC Asian Cup 2023: India predicted lineup for Australia clash

Published at :January 11, 2024 at 7:14 PM
Modified at :January 14, 2024 at 12:03 AM
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Atawaris Warsi


Australia are one of the favourites to win the AFC Asian Cup 2023.

The Indian football team is gearing up for a challenging start to their AFC Asian Cup campaign as they face the formidable Australia, four-time winners of the tournament. The Socceroos showcased their prowess in the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, reaching the knockout stages and earning a commendable world ranking of 25. 

As the Indian team prepare for this crucial encounter, the Australian squad’s impressive performance on the global stage poses a significant threat. The experience gained in the World Cup has undoubtedly bolstered their skills, making them a formidable opponent for India. With this, Igor Stimac needs to field a strong starting eleven, and we at Khel Now will predict the Indian football team’s line-up (4-2-1-3) against Australia:

Goalkeeper: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu

GURPREET SINGH SANDHU AFC ASIAN CUP 2023 INDIAN FOOTBALL TEAM AFC Asian Cup 2023: India predicted lineup for Australia clash
Gurpreet will guard the sticks for India in the AFC Asian Cup. (Courtesy: AIFF)

Australia excels in scoring from set-pieces and crosses, making Gurpreet Singh Sandhu’s presence in goal crucial. With his remarkable height and adeptness at gathering crosses, Sandhu provides a significant advantage in thwarting the aerial threats, showcasing his prowess as a formidable goalkeeper for the Indian football team.

Right-back: Nikhil Poojary

Poojary brings essential pace and energy to neutralise potential exploitation of flanks by Australian wingers. His reliability and consistent performance for the national team make him a valuable asset in thwarting opposing attacks, showcasing his proficiency in handling defensive responsibilities and contributing to the team’s overall defensive strategy.

Centre-back: Sandesh Jhingan 

His commanding presence not only provides defensive stability but also instils confidence in the team. With adept leadership skills, he orchestrates the backline effectively, organising the defence and communicating crucial instructions on the field. Furthermore, his proficiency in aerial duels not only secures the defensive third but also becomes an asset during offensive set-pieces. 

Centre-back: Rahul Bheke

Rahul Bheke’s strength, resilience, and tactical acumen make him a reliable choice in the team’s defence. His ability to read the game enhances the overall defensive strategy. While Lalchungnunga is a viable option, Bheke’s disciplined approach stands out; he avoids unnecessary yellow cards and maintains composure, contrasting with occasional recklessness observed in Lalchungnunga. Bheke’s consistent and controlled performances make him a valuable asset, ensuring stability in the backline without compromising on defensive discipline.

Left-back: Subhasish Bose

Subhasish Bose AFC Asian Cup 2023: India predicted lineup for Australia clash
Subhasish Bose is gearing up to protect India’s left flank. (Courtesy: AIFF)

The preference for Bose over Akash Mishra might spark curiosity, but Bose’s reliability at left-back is a crucial factor. Mishra, despite his potential, has displayed vulnerabilities at the club level this season. Given Australia’s penchant for crosses, Bose’s defensive solidity and experience make him a more suitable choice to handle aerial threats. 

Central Defensive Midfielder: Apuia

Apuia’s performances at the club level have been nothing short of exceptional. Despite his youth, he displays an immaculate understanding of the game, showcasing remarkable maturity on the field. As a central defensive midfielder, he possesses all the attributes required for the role. Apuia’s skill set includes solid defensive capabilities, vision, and an ability to control the tempo of the game, making him a standout talent in the position and a key asset for the Indian football team’s midfield.

Central Defensive Midfielder: Suresh Singh

When partnered with Apuia, there is a dynamic blend of speed, energy, and unwavering consistency in the midfield. Not only does he possess the endurance to play the full 90 minutes, but he also showcases the ability to deliver crisp passes that can penetrate Australia’s defence line. This partnership augurs well for the Indian team, offering a potent combination of defensive stability and creative playmaking in the crucial midfield area.

AFC Asian Cup 2023: India predicted lineup for Australia clash
India’s predicted XI against Australia.

Central Midfielder: Anirudh Thapa

Thapa is likely to be positioned in the hole, acting as the crucial bridge between the Indian midfield and the attack. His role involves efficiently linking the two areas of the pitch, enabling smoother transitions. Thapa’s ability to reach the edge of the box quickly after a long ball is played enhances the team’s attacking prowess, providing an option for a potent shot on goal. His positioning and playmaking skills in the advanced midfield role can be instrumental in breaking down the Australian defence and creating goal-scoring opportunities for the side.

Left Winger: Naorem Mahesh Singh

Mahesh’s exceptional international form solidifies his place in the line-up against Australia. His consistent performances for the national team make him a reliable choice. While Chhangte is an alternative, his subpar form at the club level raises concerns. Mahesh’s reliability, demonstrated through strong showings in recent international competitions, underscores the rationale for his selection. 

Right Winger: Manvir Singh

The quick, tall, and versatile attacker brings an all-around offensive prowess to the team. Not only does he excel on the wings with his speed, but his ability to operate effectively within the box adds a dynamic dimension to the team’s attack. Furthermore, his adaptability allows him to seamlessly shift to the striker position when needed. 

Striker: Sunil Chhetri

Indian Embassy in Qatar urges fans to turn up in 'large numbers' at AFC Asian Cup Sunil Chhetri AFC Asian Cup 2023: India predicted lineup for Australia clash
Sunil Chhetri during a training session in Doha. (Courtesy: AIFF)

Chhetri’s inclusion in the squad is a no-brainer, given his remarkable stats for the Indian national team. Despite being the most aged player in the team, it’s impossible to overlook the contributions of the country’s most prolific goal-scorer in history. His experience, leadership on the field, and consistent goal-scoring ability make him an indispensable asset against Australia. 

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