The previous encounter between both sides ended in a 1-1 draw.

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75′ Azizi (OG)82′ Zamini

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India are able to get a positive result from this game – but just about it! They needed some help from Lady Luck herself – with the goal itself being a comedy of errors from Ovays Azizi. It should’ve been easily collected by the goalkeeper but he spilled it – before the ball struck his knee and went into the box. Afghanistan were motivated by that and scored their own equalizer minutes later thanks to Hossein Zamini’s beautiful curler after some sloppy defending from Rahul Bheke. The Blue Tigers lacked that ruthlessness to build on their lead and looked relatively happy to share points in the end. This result means that India finish the FIFA World Cup qualifiers group stages with 1 win, 4 draws and 3 losses. Much remains to be improved, but at least this third-place finish allows them a better chances of qualifying for the 2023 AFC Asian Cup. This is Uttiyo Sarkar signing off for Khel Now. Thanks and Goodnight, Ladies & Gentlemen!

90+4’ Liston is fouled by a dangerous sliding challenge from Zamini, who is booked for it. And that’s it, as India are able to secure a third-place finish in the group!

90+2’ Afghanistan players look too tired to mount properly attacks here but are trying their best to get it forward. They get a free-kick in a decent position after a silly foul by Subashish.

90+1′ Four minutes of added time is announced. Can either of the teams get a late goal here?

89’ India seems to have gone into game management mode right now and are trying to keep all the possession they can.

90’ Ooh! Subashish does well to fling in a cross for Manvir, who sees his looping header go over the post.

86’ Afghanistan are desperate to get a winner now and make a change as Popalzy is taken off for Noraollah Amiri.

82 GOAL! Afghanistan equalize! Hossein Zamini plays a nice one-two with Noor Hussin, who also manages to rob the ball off a defender before sending Zamini inside the box – with the 18-year-old beautifully curling the ball into the net to make it 1-1.

81’ Ashique is taken off on a stretcher after suffering an injury and Bipin Singh replaces him.

78’ Afghanistan are now desperate after that embarrassment and giving India plenty of counter-attacking chances. Ashique blares through on goal in one and gets into the box before cutting it for Suresh to score – but it is ruled out as the ball had gone out of play before the goal.

75’ GOALLL! That’s the luckiest goal India would ever get! Ashique flung in a cross into the box which should’ve easily been collected by Azizi – but instead he lets it off his grip and diverts the ball into his own net – giving India a gift! 1-0!

73’ Manvir is a lucky man not to get sent off here. He lashes out at an Afghanistan player and lashes out at a player – but the referee doesn’t see it so he doesn’t take any action. Meanwhile, Afghanistan make another change as Hossein Zamani comes on for Adam Najem.

72’ Some bold and surprising changes made by Stimac here just as India are desperately in need of a goal. He’ll hope that his changes pay off in the end and that Colaco or Lalengmawia can get among the goals.

69’ After that, Chhetri is surprisingly taken off – with Liston Colaco replacing him.

68’ CLOSE!! Chhetri takes the free-kick and powers the ball over the wall but only to see it steer just over the target.

67’ Haroon Amiri is shown a yellow card after cynically bringing down Ashique outside the box. Free-kick for India in a promising area.

66’ CLOSE! Popalzay gets some space just outside the box and takes a shot from afar, but slips in the last moment, causing his attempt to go wide.

62’ India make their first substitution of the game as Brandon is taken off for Lalengmawia.

60’ Jhingan is down on the pitch and seems to be in some pain. A drinks break has been allowed as Sandesh is tended to by the doctors.

58’ Ooh! Bheke sends in a great long throw-in which is flicked on by Subhashish into a leaping Chhetri – who can’t connect his header properly and only sees it saved easily.

57’ CLOSE! Saighani does well to bring the ball forward and plays a great ball to Shayesteh just outside the box – allowing him to take a ball that goes straight to Gurpreet’s hands.

54’ India mount a nice attack through the right, with the ball played to Manvir – who skips past a body before his cross is cleared for a corner.

51’ India have again started this half on the front foot too and seem motivated by Stimac’s half-time team talk. A goal can seal the deal here.

48’ Ashique does really well to steal the ball at the halfway line and runs diagonally through the middle in a 2v3 situation. However, he can’t find Chhetri in space and is stolen off possession outside the box.

46’ The second half kicks off! Afghanistan will be attacking from the right to left this time and are desperate to get a goal here.

HALF TIME ANALYSIS: India started the game on the front foot and full of confidence after the big Bangladesh win – but were not able to take the chances created by some impressive high-pressing. Afghanistan then slowly started to take control and mounted some dangerous counter-attacks, but their own final product was poor. The only time Gurpreet Singh Sandhu was tested was late into the first half when he easily saved Amir Sharifi’s attempt. India have been a bit sloppy in the first half and need to improve upon that to get a goal and possible the win in the second half. We’ll be back with second-half action soon. Stay tuned, folks!

45+1′ One minute of added time is announced. Can India get anything in this half anymore? They’re unable to do so, as the referee surprisingly blows the whistle seconds after giving them a free-kick.

45′ Suresh does really well to steal possession in the middle and burst forward in a 3v3 situation but his final pass to Manvir inside the box is sloppy and allows Azizi to hold onto it.

42′ Gurpreet Saves! Sharifi plays a nice one-two with Popalzay before letting rip a long-shot from outside the box that is held onto well by the Indian no.1.

38′ A dangerous free-kick is sent in but is bravely cleared away by Jhingan – who takes a bit of a knock with a clash of heads – but is up to defend the corner.

37′ India concede another cheap free-kick after Rahul Bheke unnecessarily brings down Noor Hussain.

34′ Afghanistan receive a free-kick in a promising area outside the box after Chinglensana barges down Omid Popalzay. Singh is also booked for the challenge.

33′ Amir Sharifi calls for a penalty for Afghanistan after losing a duel to Subhashish Bose – but the referee is in no mood to give one.

32′ India survive a real scare after Afghanistan had gotten into a 3v2 situation in a counter-attack. However, the final pass was poor and allowed a number of Indian stars to drop to the back before the Blue Tigers are able to neutralize the attack.

30′ Afghanistan make their substitution, as Farshad Noor has to go off for Adam Najem.

29′ Noor goes down again and it seems that his game might be done. He is clutching his knee after seemingly jarring it during a duel and could be forced to be substituted.

26′ Noor goes down on the pitch with an injury – forcing the game to be brought to a halt. This gives the players some time for refreshments and Stimac time to give his players some pointers.

25′ Ashique does really well to steal the ball on the left flank and moves through inside the box – but his final pass is cleared away before it could reach Chhetri in an open area.

24′ Ooh! Brandon plays a short corner with Ashique, who’s attempted cross almost dips into the net before the Afghanistan goalkeeper Ovays Azizi sees it hit the top netting.

22′ Chinglensana Singh has looked really solid so far – helping break down a number of Afghanistan’s fast breaks and is moving the ball swiftly too.

19′ Afghanistan are playing more cautiously now as they’re aware of how dangerous India can be in the counter-attacks. The Blue Tigers are trying to gain control of the game but are a bit sloppy with their distribution.

16′ Igor Stimac is shown a yellow card by the referee for showing dissent on the touchlines after flinging something on the floor in disgust. He has to keep his emotions in check now or risk being sent off.

14′ Suresh Singh seems to have been given a free role and is roaming through the right flank to often become a makeshift right-winger himself. It seems his assist against Bangladesh has given the teammates confidence to send him into the box with the ball.

11′ Penalty call by India! Afghanistan struggle to properly clear a corner and it seemed like the ball struck Faysal Shayesteh’s hand – but the referee waved play on.

10′ CHANCE! Glan Martins does really well to win the ball in a dangerous area which allows Chhetri to go through on goal, but his left-footed attempt is saved well.

9′ Brandon whips in an inviting corner that meets Sandesh Jhingan’s head – but his header is cleared away by Haroon Amiri a few yards off the line to strave away danger.

8′ Afghanistan have slowly taken control of the game and are retaining possession really well. Chhetri seems frustrated with his teammates and can be spotted encouraging Manvir and Ashique to press the players harder.

5′ Afghanistan get their first half-chance in front of goal. A ball is played to Milad Intezar just outside the box and he lays if off to Farshad Noor, who’s half-baked attempt is blocked by Chinglensana Singh and sent out.

3′ A bright start from the Blue Tigers and they seemed to have picked off from where they left off against Bangladesh. They are shaped in a 4-man backline today and the players are pressing high up to put the Afghanistan players under pressure.

1′ CLOSE! India win the ball back in midfield and Brandon plays a nice lobbed ball to Manvir through the right, allowing the ATKMB star to take a shot that is saved at the near post.

1′ KICKOFF! India are the ones to start things off and will be attacking from the right to left today.

07:25 pm: The players have now come onto the pitch and are underdoing pre-match rituals. There will soon be a coin-toss followed by kick-off in a few minutes.

07:20 pm: The players have now finished their pre-match warmup sessions and gone back to the dressing room to get ready for the game. Kick-off in just a few minutes now, folks!

07:15 pm: India dominated the lion’s share of possession in the win over Bangladesh – but might not have it that easy today. They have to be clever in moving around the ball and retaining possession to frustrate Afghanistan. If Stimac’s side decides to sit back and just absorb, it could come back to haunt them. A draw might be enough, but the Croatian gaffer will motivate his players to play entertaining attacking football and get the job done with a win.

07:10 pm: Brandon Fernandes ran the show for India in the 2-0 win over Bangladesh. He might not have gotten an assist or a goal, but created a lot of big goal-scoring chances which his teammates just couldn’t convert. The FC Goa man will hope his teammates are more clinical in front of goal today, because his menacing delivery will definitely torment Afghanistan and help create a number of chances for the Blue Tigers.

07:05 pm: India have played Afghanistan 9 times in International games in their history, winning 6 times, drawing 2 and losing one game. After the way they had to be bailed out by a last-minute equalizer from Len Doungel in their last meeting against the Lions of Khorasan – the Blue Tigers will hope for a much better showing today.

07:00 pm: Sunil Chhetri will be intent on adding more International goals to his tally after his impressive performance against Bangladesh. Lionel Messi scored a goal in Argentina’s Copa America opener on Monday – so Chhetri will perhaps be more motivated to score and maintain the gap between him and the Barcelona superstar.

6:55 pm: Afghanistan will also be playing with a spring in their steps today as they are the ones under real pressure. The Lions of Khorasan desperately need a win to leap over India and secure a third-place finish in the group. For India, even a draw could be good – but after the Bangladesh win – the Blue Tigers will be aiming for nothing but 3 more points.

6:50 pm: A noticeable name in this Afghanistan line-up for Indian football fans will be Masih Saighani. He played for Chennaiyin FC in the ISL and has plenty of experience playing with Indian players. Saighani will probably be tasked to mark either Chhetri or Brandon Fernandes today – so his battle against the Blue Tigers will be one to watch today.

6:45 pm: Here is how Afghanistan line up today:

Afghanistan XI: Ovays Azizi, Masih Saighani, David Najem, Haroon Amiri, Noor Husin, Farshad Noor (captain), Faysal Shayesteh, Milad Intezar, Amir Sharifi, Omid Popalzay, M Sharif

Subs: Faisal Hamidi, Hamidullah Wakili, Adam Najem, Hossein Zamini, Hussain Alizada, Abdul Haidary, Zubayr Amiri, Jabar Sharza, Noraollah Amiri, Maziar Kouhyar, Fardin Hakimi, Samir Samandari

6:40 pm: Igor Stimac has made 2 changes to his line-up from the team that won against Bangladesh. Rahul Bheke is back after serving his one-game suspension and Ashique Kuruniyan replaces his Bengaluru FC teammate Udanta Singh in the line-up. It looks like Sunil Chhetri could play down the middle today – with Manvir Singh operating as a right winger and Kuruniyan taking that left-wing role.

6:35 pm: TEAM NEWS IS IN! Here is how the Blue Tigers line up today:

India XI: Gurpreet, Bheke, Chinglensana, Sandesh, Subhashish, Glan, Suresh, Brandon, Ashique, Manvir, Sunil

Subs: Adil, Thapa, Bipin, Dheeraj, Pronay, Udanta, Apuia, Liston, Sahal, Akash, Pritam, Amrinder

6:30 pm The Blue Tigers are back! After a defeat against Qatar and an encouraging 2-0 win against Bangladesh in the FIFA World Cup 2022 Qualifiers so far, India will now fight it out in a crucial ‘finale’ vs Afghanistan.

We all know how Sunil Chhetri made the headlines in the game against Bangladesh. However, a number of players gave encouraging performances. Brandon Fernandes was at his creative best from deep midfield, Ashique Kuruniyan displayed a strong second half outing and Chinglesana Singh was solid at the back.

The Blue Tigers now have one victory and three draws in seven matches. They are at third spot on the table, a point above the Afghans. India now need to win the encounter vs Afghanistan or at least earn a draw to ensure they remain third on the table.

To do so, we feel that Igor Stimac and co probably need to start on the front foot. In case you don’t remember, they didn’t do that the last time these two teams met. A lackluster performance saw India wait until the 93rd minute to earn a point, from a corner that was delivered by Fernandes. Chhetri’s second half header was brilliantly tipped over the bar by Afghan goalkeeper Ovays Azizi. India will, however, start the reverse fixture with a lot more confidence and attacking impetus. A dominant performance against neighbours Bangladesh in the previous encounter have given them plenty of confidence.

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