In 2019, India registered their first ever victory in Asian Cup in 64 years when they beat Thailand 4-1 at the Al Nahyan Stadium in Abu Dhabi. A Sunil Chhetri brace, and goals from Anirudh Thapa and Jeje Lalpekhlua had given India the best start they could have hoped for but after that everything went downhill. Narrow defeats to Bahrain and United Arab Emirates meant that India finished last in their group and crashed out of the tournament.
Four years later the situation looks a bit different. In the joint FIFA World Cup 2022 and AFC Asian Cup qualifiers India are placed third in their group with one game against Afghanistan still to play. India only needs one point to seal the third spot, while only a victory would suffice Afghanistan's quest to qualify further in the Asian Cup 2023.
India is placed third with 6 points, 16 points behind toppers Qatar, and 9 points behind second placed Qatar. It means that India is out of contention in the further qualifying rounds of the 2022 World Cup, but still have a chance to qualify for the third round of the AFC Asian Cup 2023 qualifiers.
The match against Afghanistan holds the key for India to the further qualification rounds in the Asian Cup 2023 which will be held in China. The team which finishes third in group will directly advance to the third round of qualifying for the AFC Asian Cup 2023. The third round of qualifying for the Asian Cup will be played from 16 November 2021 to 14 June 2022.
The crucial match is set to be played at 7:30pm IST at the Jassim Bin Hammad Stadium in Doha, Qatar. You can catch the live action on the Star Sports network, or you can stream it on Hotstar or Jio TV.