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FIFA World Cup Qualifiers

India predicted lineup for Afghanistan clash in FIFA World Cup Qualifiers 2026

Published at :March 24, 2024 at 8:42 PM
Modified at :March 24, 2024 at 8:42 PM
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Samannay Sen


India has not lost against Afghanistan in their past five encounters.

Following a goalless draw in Saudi Arabia, the Blue Tigers are set to vie for a victory against Afghanistan in Guwahati on March 26. Despite having opportunities to take the lead, India couldn’t capitalize on them in the previous encounter.

In contrast, Afghanistan performed admirably in thwarting India’s scoring attempts, securing their first clean sheet of the campaign. With the Blue Tigers making a return to Guwahati after a five-year hiatus, anticipation is high for a thrilling encounter. Igor Stimac must field his best starting XI against the Lions of Khorasan.

India will surely look to capitalize on their past mistakes and go for glory in the quest for their World Cup Qualification which is at stake. As Igor Stimac considers introducing some fresh faces to the squad, we, at Khel Now, will anticipate the lineup for the Indian football team (4-2-3-1 formation) against Afghanistan.

Formation: 4-2-3-1

Goalkeeper: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu

Gurpreet Singh Sandhu for India.
Gurpreet Singh Sandhu (Image Source: AIFF)

Afghanistan exhibits a strong ability to capitalize on set-pieces and crosses, emphasizing the crucial role played by Gurpreet Singh Sandhu in goal. With his commanding presence and expertise in dealing with aerial deliveries, Sandhu provides a vital advantage in neutralizing such threats, showcasing his prowess as a formidable goalkeeper for the Indian football team. Gupreet’s performance in the previous match makes him a first choice for Igor Stimac.

Right-back: Nikhil Poojary

Nikhil Poojari (Image Source: AIFF)

Poojary’s inclusion on the field brings essential speed and dynamism, providing a strong response to potential threats from Afghanistan’s winger’s out wide. His consistent performance and valuable contributions to the National team highlight his importance in thwarting opponent attacks. Poojary’s proficiency in defensive responsibilities underscores his significance in the team’s defensive tactics and emphasizes his worth as a defensive asset.

Centre-back: Anwar Ali

With Sandesh Jhingan side-lined, the spotlight shifts to Anwar Ali. Ali has impressed in defense with his well-timed interceptions and his skillful distribution from the back. Despite recently returning from injury, his standout displays for India in the previous game were crucial. Anwar Ali is expected to play a pivotal role in Igor Stimac’s starting XI against Afghanistan.

Centre-back: Rahul Bheke

Rahul Bheke’s strength, resilience, and tactical acumen make him a reliable presence in the team’s defensive line. His ability to anticipate plays adds substantial value to the defensive approach. Notably, he maintains discipline, avoiding unnecessary yellow cards and staying composed under pressure. Bheke’s consistent and composed performances establish him as a crucial asset, ensuring stability in the defense while maintaining defensive discipline.

Left-back: Akash Mishra

Akash Mishra is poised to assume the left-back position for The Blue Tigers. His agility and speed enhance the defensive line significantly. Mishra’s ability to carry the ball forward and deliver precise crosses presents valuable scoring opportunities for the Indian attackers. Possessing both attacking and defensive prowess, Mishra emerges as a key asset for Igor Stimac’s strategy against Afghanistan, potentially serving as a trump card in the matchup.

Central Defensive Midfielder: Apuia

Apuia (Image Source: AIFF)

Apuia has showcased remarkable performances at the club level, standing out for his exceptional abilities despite his youth. Demonstrating a profound comprehension of the game and displaying notable maturity, he has impressed on the field. His strengths include robust defensive capabilities, exceptional vision, and the ability to control the tempo of the game. These attributes position him as a standout talent in his role and a pivotal asset for the Indian football team’s midfield.

Central Defensive Midfielder: Jeakson Singh

Jeakson Singh is set to reclaim his position in the midfield alongside Apuia after his injury return. A favorite of Igor Stimac, Jeakson’s presence in the middle of the park is crucial. Known for his swift interceptions and precise ball distribution, he adds solidity to India’s midfield. Deployed as a defensive midfielder, Jeakson’s inclusion enhances India’s command over the middle third, giving them greater control of the game.

Attacking Midfielder: Sunil Chhetri

Chhetri’s inclusion in the squad is a logical decision, given his remarkable track record with the Indian national team. Despite being the oldest player on the roster, there’s no denying the invaluable contributions of the country’s top goal-scorer. His extensive experience, leadership on the field, and consistent ability to find the net make him an indispensable asset for the match against Afghanistan.

Left Winger: Naorem Mahesh Singh

Naorem performed well in the last encounter after he came as a substitute against Afghanistan. His goal-scoring prowess and his skills in the wing make him a good attacking option. Mahesh has performed well for his club in the ISL and can be a vital factor against the Afghanistan side in the upcoming game.

Right Winger: Lallianzuala Chhangte

Renowned for his electrifying pace, Lallianzuala Chhangte emerges as a pivotal figure in the flanks for Team India. His exceptional displays for Mumbai in the recent ISL matches underscore his form and capabilities. Chhangte’s proficiency in finding the net, coupled with his rapid pace and precise crosses, positions him perfectly as a right winger. With Sunil Chhetri and other forwards relying on his deliveries, Chhangte’s crosses will be instrumental in India’s quest for goals against Afghanistan in the World Cup Qualifiers.

Striker: Vikram Partap Singh

Vikram Partap Singh has created a mark in Indian football with his goal-scoring prowess in the Indian Super League (ISL) for Mumbai City FC. Vikram is the leading Indian goal scorer and putting him upfront alongside Sunil Chhetri will surely make the Indian side stronger. With his agility and ability to score goals, Vikram will be a preferred choice for Igor Stimac.

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