The Blue Colts have never qualified for the tournament in their history.

India are approaching the home stretch of their AFC U-23 Asian Cup 2022 Qualifiers campaign, as they face Kyrgyzstan U-23 in their final game. Things are ‘finely balanced’ in Group E – as one can say. All four teams in India’s group are level on three points each, with the same goal-difference!

The equations are interesting. Of course, in case of victories in the remaining two games, both victors should progress to the main competition. The team with a better goal-difference will win the group. But, if both the games end as draws, the head-to-head and disciplinary record will decide who progresses.  

India probably have a 10-20% chance of progression if they draw against Kyrgyzstan. That’s not the odds Igor Stimac will fancy. The Blue Tigers have to go for the win and perform like they did against Oman U-23. They have to be defensively flawless and ruthless on the counter-attack to drown the hard-working Kyrgyzstan U-23 side and attain their first-ever qualification into the AFC U-23 Asian Cup.

India Vs Kyrgyzstan: The Stakes

Indian football has taken commendable strides forward when it comes to developing youth football over the years. But, if there’s no real end product, all the work will go to vain. Qualifying for a prominent competition like the AFC U-23 Asian Cup is vital to proving that the country has a bright young core.

Stimac can’t rely on a draw against Kyrgyzstan. The Croatia manager has to let his players express themselves and play attacking football with the utmost freedom. India know they can defeat Kyrgyzstan U-23 after their win over Oman U-23. They have to produce their best performance yet to achieve the target. If unable to qualify for another U-23 Asian Cup after their fifth attempt, India’s reputation for producing quality young talent will definitely take a hit.

Like India U-23, Kyrgyzstan U-23 have also never qualified for an AFC U-23 Asian Cup edition. They’ve come close, but failed at the final steps. Because of how open Group E is, a win for them could also help them attain qualification for the competition for the first time.

Kyrgyzstan pulled off an upset win over UAE U-23 in their first game. It’s the same UAE side that recently defeated India. They’ll be liking their odds. Kyrgyzstan has a strong young, so not qualification after coming so far will be disappointing. As long as able to maintain their gritty defensive shape to frustrate India & launch quick attacking moves, they could get the win and achieve their dream.

India vs Kyrgyzstan: Team News

India U-23 have no injury or suspension problems for this one, with Stimac having a fully fit squad to choose from.

Similarly, Kyrgyzstan also have no injury problems – but will miss defender Maksat Dzhakybaliev after he was sent off against Oman.

India Vs Kyrgzstan: Probable Lineups

India XI: Dheeraj Singh (GK), Asish Rai, Narender Gahlot, Deepak Tangri, Akash Mishra, Lalengmawia, Jeakson Singh, Suresh Singh, Rahul KP, Vikram Pratap Singh, Rahim Ali

Kyrgyzstan XI: Erzhan Tokotaev (GK), Ernaz Abilov, Amanzhan Zhanybek,  Daniil Artiukov, Kamolidin Tashiev, Abrorbek Askarov, Termibolot Tapaev, Arlen Sharshenbekov, Adilet Kanybekov, Alimardon Shukurov, Maksat Alygulov

India v Kyrgyzstan: Man to Watch

Rahim Ali (India)

Rahim Ali has been like a leader in attack for India U-23 in the qualifiers so far. The Chennaiyin FC man might’ve had an underwhelming game against UAE, but remains a force upfront. If he’s able to hassle the Kyrgyzstan defenders with his physicality, Ali can help open up spaces for teammates in attack.

But, of course, apart from his link-up play, he must be ruthless going forward. Ali has to convert any chance he gets in the penalty area to strengthen India’s goalscoring chances. The young forward has to look to repeat his heroics from the Oman win and be that proactive figure for the Blue Colts to get a win.

Maksat Alygulov (Kyrgyzstan)

He might still be goalless in the qualifiers, but prolific Kyrgyzstan U-23 striker Maksat Alygulov remains one of their biggest attacking threats. The Abdysh-Ata Kent striker has been enjoying a superb domestic season, having scored 17 goals and registered seven assists in 26 appearances for them. Alygulov is a daunting prospect for any defender, with his clever movement and dribbling ability making it difficult to keep him quiet.

The 20-year-old can whiz into prime goalscoring areas and possess brilliant finishing ability. If Alygulov can unlock his ruthless persona against India, he can run riot over the defenders and help his side progress to the AFC U-23 Asian Cup.

Did You Know?

  • The game on Saturday will be the first time India U-23 face Kyrgyzstan’s U-23 side in their history.
  • Kyrgyzstan U-23 have only lost one out of their last four games – which came in the recent defeat to Oman U-23.
  • India U-23 are yet to keep a clean-sheet in their AFC U-23 Asian Cup Qualifiers.

Telecast

The game will take place on Saturday 30 October at the Fujairah Stadium, UAE at 10:00 PM IST. It will be streamed live on Indian Football Team’s Facebook page.

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