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regular-article-logo Thursday, 23 May 2024

Must-win clash with Syria in Asian Cup

A 0-2 loss to Australia followed by a 0-3 thumping by Uzbekistan laid bare India’s inability to offer strong competition to the top teams of the continent

PTI Al Khor (Qatar) Published 23.01.24, 06:30 AM
Sunil Chhetri.

Sunil Chhetri. File picture

Winless, and pointless after losing two group matches, India need a victory against a tricky Syria to keep alive their faint hopes of making the knockout stage of the AFC Asian Cup football tournament here on Tuesday.

A 0-2 loss to Australia followed by a 0-3 thumping by Uzbekistan laid bare India’s inability to offer strong competition to the top teams of the continent. A win against Syria though can salvage some pride for the Sunil Chhetri-led side.

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Syria are currently ranked 91st in the Fifa standings, 11 places above India (102nd) but a victory is not impossible for the Igor Stimac-coached side as they have won against the West Asian nation in the past — in the 2007, 2009 and 2012 Nehru Cup tournaments.

The last time the two sides met, the match ended in a 1-1 draw in the 2019 Intercontinental Cup in Ahmedabad.

India will finish third in Group B if they beat Syria at Al Bayt Stadium but even that will not guarantee them a place in the round of 16.

With a goal difference of minus five — the deciding factor if teams are tied on points — after two matches, it may be difficult for India to be one of the four third-placed teams out of six to progress to the knockout stage.

The last group matches will be held on Thursday (Group E and F) and India will have to wait till then to know their fate even if they beat Syria on Tuesday.

Match starts: 5pm IST live on Sports 18 Network & JioCinema

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