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AFC Asian Cup 2023 Qualification (Third Round) – India vs Afghanistan: Men in Blue move closer to qualifying for the next AFC Asian Cup with a 2-1 win

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India move closer to creating history to qualify for the back-to-back AFC Asian Cup for the first time after they beat Afghanistan by 2-1 through the late goals drama.

It was the second game for both India and Afghanistan in the Group D of the third round of the 2023 AFC Asian Cup Qualification, which Salt Lake Stadium (Kolkata) hosted Saturday (11th June) night.

The scoreline was 0-0 till the 85th minute of the game. While captain Sunil Chhetri opened the scoreline for the Men in Blue, substitute Zubayr Amiri’s header equalised the scoreline just before the beginning of the stoppage time.

India, India vs Afghanistan
Image Credit: AIFF Twitter
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Finally, the substitute Sahal Abdul Samad became the hero for the hosts with his match-winning goal in the early stoppage time.

With these crucial three points, India have collected a total of six points in this group. While Hong Kong and India have the same six points in this Group D, the Men in Blue (+3) are currently behind Hong Kong (+4) in goal difference.

Before this game, India beat Cambodia by 2-0 in their opening game of this round, thanks to Sunil Chhetri’s brace.

India vs Afghanistan: Playing XIs + Substitutions

India XI: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu (GK), Naorem Roshan Singh, Sandesh Jhingan, Anwar Ali, Akash Mishra, Suresh Singh, Jeakson Singh (Glan Martins 67’), Manvir Singh (Udanta Singh 90’), Liston Colaco (Brandon Fernandes 56’), Sunil Chhetri (C) (Sahal Abdul Samad 90’), Aashique Kuruniyan.

Afghanistan XI: Faisal Ahmad Hamidi (GK), David Ahmed Najem, Haroon Amiri, Noor Husin (Fareed Sadat 85’), Farshad Noor, Mustafa Azadzoy, Faysal Shayesteh (Mustafa Zazai 72’), Ahmad Omran Haydary, Qamaruddin Maziar Kouhyar (Zubayr Amiri 72’), Milad Intezar, M. Sharif Mukhammad (Omid Popalza 35’).

India vs Afghanistan: Key Points

(1st half)

India: Dominated but failed to finish strongly

India vs Afghanistan
Image Credit: AIFF Twitter

India got plenty of corners, but they couldn’t manage to utilize those very strongly. Similarly, the hosts also got the opportunity of some free kicks, which they fail to test the oppositions properly. The Men in Blue had most of the things right in the first half, except the final deliveries.

In the 16th minute of the game, Jeakson Singh’s powerful header from the following corner just missed the goal as that header went just over the post.

Afghanistan: Struggled to release pressure

Afghanistan were always under pressure from the early period of the game. Their attacks looked challenging, but the Indian defenders held their nerves strongly. Also, there was a lack of support for their attacking strategies.   

(2nd half)

India: Created more crucial chances before late successful finishes

Sahal Abdul Samad
Sahal Abdul Samad (Image Credit: Twitter)

The hosts managed to create better chances in the second half, but they had to wait very late before opening the scoreline.

It was the fourth minute of the second half when the hosts were so close to opening their scoreline. Sunil Chhetri’s header from a very close range of the post just missed putting the ball into the net. Aashique Kuruniyan had a great cross from the left side, while Manvir Singh’s good header found Chhetri, who failed to make a strong header.

In the 73rd minute, Brandon Fernandes’ corner found unmarked Anwar, whose header just went over the post.

In the 86th minute, Sunil Chhetri’s brilliant free-kick just from outside the box finally opened India’s scoreline to 1-0. It was Chhetri’s 83rd goal in his national team jersey.  

In the first minute of the stoppage time, India regained the lead to 2-1, thanks to Sahal Abdul Samad’s goal.

Afghanistan: A much better approach

The visitors had a much better approach in the second half as they now looked dangerous for the opponents. However, once again, it seemed too lesser players attacking the Indian defence.

In the 63rd minute, unmarked Ahmad Omran Haydary had a great opportunity for the visitors. Substitute Omid Popalza had a good cross for Haydary, but his header completely missed the goal.

In the 74th minute, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu saved superbly after unmarked Zazai’s shot went on target.  

In the 88th minute, unmarked Zubayr Amiri’s header from the following corner levelled the scoreline for Afghanistan to 1-1.

During the third minute of the stoppage time, Afghanistan’s free-kick had a close chance for another equaliser, but the visitors had no opportunity for the final touch.  

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