Both teams consist of brilliant individual players and it will be a treat to the eyes to watch them play against each other.
India are all set to play Afghanistan in Dushanbe and Igor Stimac’s men need to get back to winning ways, as they are winless in their group. Their inspiring draw against Qatar away from home was soon written over, after they only managed a 1-1 draw against Bangladesh.
Sunil Chhetri and company will now have to step up their game, as they enter the business end of the World Cup Qualifiers. The last meeting between the two sides came back in 2016, when the Blue Tigers defeated Afghanistan 2-1 to lift the SAFF Cup for the seventh time. Chhetri and Jeje Lalpekhlua scored in that game, with Zubayr Amiri getting the only goal for the Lions of Khorasan.
However, they are a lot different team now. They have defeated Bangladesh away from home recently and their stubborn gameplay often puts their opponents under pressure. The Afghans won’t sit back and wait to attack on the counter. They would rather look to take the attack to the opposition. They are a well-drilled side and can cause the Blue Tigers a lot of problems, if taken lightly.
5. Adil Khan Vs Jabar Sharza
In Sandesh Jhingan’s absence, Adil Khan has taken the mantle of leading the backline. The Hyderabad FC defender also scored in India’s home game against Bangladesh to save their blushes in the end. So, Adil will be a threatening figure at the back while defending and also during set-pieces.
Similarly, Afghanistan’s new forward Sharza has featured for Helsinki IFK in Finland and has scored quite a few goals there. His daunting physicality makes him a target in the penalty area and therefore, it will be a great clash between these two players.
4. Sahal Abdul Samad Vs Farshad Noor
Afghanistan Vs India: Sahal Abdul Samad has the capacity to take on players in midfield at will
The game between India and Afghanistan will be a closely contested affair and it is likely to be decided in midfield. There, Farshad Noor, the former PSV academy graduate will play a crucial role in Anoush Dastgir’s team. The 25-year-old box-to-box midfielder is among the new crop of Afghani talent, who has shown immense maturity and has also donned the armband for his nation. His energy in midfield and tireless work-ethic will be instrumental to Afghanistan’s success in this game.
However, Noor’s biggest challenge ought to be Kerala Blasters’ Sahal Abdul Samad, who has been a revelation in Indian football lately. The 22-year-old midfielder has the capacity to take on players in midfield at will and his ability to run with the ball and create chances in the final third will be a major threat to Anoush Dastgir’s men. Therefore, we can expect a feisty battle between two bright talents in the middle of the field.
3. Faysal Shayesteh Vs Anirudh Thapa
Another midfield duel which could literally dictate the ebbs and flows of the game. Faysal Shayesteh is the creative nucleus of Anoush Dastgir’s team, as he often drifts wide and creates openings for the forwards to capitalize on. His jinking runs down the channel and deft passing can cause India trouble.
We have seen Anirudh Thapa play in a deeper midfield role against Bangladesh and if the Chennaiyin FC man is again vested with the responsibility, he needs to keep Shayesteh in check. It will be a mouthwatering clash between the two midfielders.
2. Udanta Singh Vs Hassan Amin
Another interesting battle which the spectators will witness is going to be between “The Flash” of India, Udanta Singh and Afghanistan’s left-back Hassan Amin. Born in Germany, the 28-year-old is technically very sound with the ball and has come through the ranks at Darmstadt. His explosive pace and physicality make him a threat on the left flank.
However, Amin will be up against Udanta, who is also known for his blistering pace. The youngster failed to live up to expectations against Bangladesh, but he needs to step up now. Igor Stimac needs him to perform in national colours. So, it will be an interesting tussle when both players clash with each other in the match.
1. Zohib Islam Amiri vs Sunil Chhetri
In this clash between India and Afghanistan, there are a few players who can change the course of the game. Both Sunil Chhetri and Zohib Amiri are those seasoned campaigners. Amiri knows Indian football like the back of his hand and is also the most experienced player in the team at the age of 32.
Being the most experienced defender, Amiri will be handed the responsibility of keeping India’s talisman at bay. The Bengaluru FC man recently broke the shackles in the ISL and scored a stunning goal against Chennaiyin. He would like to continue that form with the Blue Tigers as well.