The international break will see several mouthwatering qualifying fixtures with teams having a lot at stake.
With the return of the international break, the joint qualifiers for the AFC Asian Cup 2023 and FIFA World Cup 2022 have also returned with the next set of fixtures.
It is a big week for Indian football, as Igor Stimac’s men will host Bangladesh in a must-win fixture. While other top fixtures include Oman hosting Qatar, as we will also get to see the rivalry between North and South Korea. Akira Nishino’s Thailand also host the mighty United Arab Emirates in a crucial Group G clash.
5. India Vs Bangladesh
An age-old rivalry which goes beyond just sport. The atmosphere is always electric when India play Bangladesh, be it cricket or football. This time the match will be hosted by the Blue Tigers at the mammoth Salt Lake Stadium and considering the current form of the Indian side, it is expected to be a full house containing nearly 60-65,000 people.
Jamie Day’s men will host Qatar before this game and a lot will depend on that fixture, given they lost their first qualifying match against Afghanistan at home. Therefore, it will be a very feisty affair between both the teams.
4. Thailand Vs United Arab Emirates
A very exciting Group G clash featuring both teams. The War Elephants have started well by winning their last match against Singapore, after their first qualifying match ended in a draw against Vietnam.
Thailand faced UAE earlier this year in the AFC Asian Cup 2019
Meanwhile, the UAE have won the only game they played against Malaysia. The Whites will play Indonesia before facing Thailand. Therefore, the complexion of the group could change very soon.
Nishino has marshalled his men well and will hope to secure a positive result against their toughest opposition in the group. When they last met, it was a group game in the AFC Asian Cup, which ended in a 1-1 draw.
3. Bahrain Vs Iran
Both Bahrain and Iran are considered heavyweights in Asia
A very crucial Group C clash which could be pivotal in deciding which two teams go through to the next round of the qualifiers. Iran, who are second at the point of writing, will play Cambodia before travelling to Bahrain and can reach six points from two games. Whereas, Helio Sousa’s men have secured a win against Cambodia and a draw against Iraq. Therefore, a positive result from this match against Iran will be very crucial for them.
On the other hand, Marc Wilmots will hope that his boys travel to Bahrain with a win against Cambodia and deliver a better performance overall than their 2-0 win against Hong Kong.
2. Qatar Vs Oman
Another heavyweight fixture from Group E which may determine the qualifying teams from this group. At the moment, Qatar are on top of the group with four points from two matches, followed by Oman, who somehow edged past India away from home in their only fixture until now. Both these teams will have a busy international break, as before playing each other they will have another qualifying match.
Qatar will travel to Bangladesh while Oman surged past Afghanistan in a 3-0 win on 10th October as they next play the Maroons. The Maroons will look to come back strongly after their shocking stalemate against India at home. This fixture will also play a huge part in India’s fate of going through to the third round of the qualifiers.
1. North Korea Vs Korea Republic
A rivalry which resonates way beyond any sport and it is no secret that neither of the teams will want to lose this tie. It is a matter of pride and prestige for both countries. It has always been a close affair whenever these two teams have met in the past. Their last meeting goes back to 2017, where Korea Republic edged out a 1-0 win over their rivals. Paulo Bento’s men hold a stronger head-to-head record against the Chollima, but Yun Jong-su’s men will not give an inch of space when they face their arch-rivals.
North Korea are currently well placed at the top of the table, with two wins out of two. Whereas, Korea Republic are just behind their rivals, with their only win against Turkmenistan. Son Heung-min and Co. will play Sri Lanka ahead of this fixture and are expected to take the field on level terms when they travel to the Kim Il-sung Stadium in Pyongyang.