The Indian football team was given the moniker of the ‘sleeping giant’ quite some time ago but Sunil Chhetri and Co have not been able to live up to those expectations. Currently ranked 102nd in the world, India will be the lowest-ranked side in their group at the AFC Asian Cup 2024 but a good performance can see them get the better of their on-paper superior opposition. India are placed in Group B alongside 2015 winners Australia, Uzbekistan and Syria. India will begin their campaign against Australia on Saturday and the last time they met was in the 2011 edition of this competition with the Socceroos winning 4-0.
India’s Asian Cup performances over the years –
The first appearance of India in this competition was back in 1964 and it remains their best outing till date. India lost just one game in the competition against Israel and finished runners-up in the four-team competition. While the tournament was marred by controversies, India returned with a good result.
India had to wait 20 years for their next appearance and in 1984, they were placed in the group with Singapore, China, Iran and UAE. The campaign started well with a goalless draw against Iran but that proved to be their only point as India ended up losing all of their remaining matches.
In 2011, India lost all of their matches, including the one against Australia, and finished without a point.
The 2019 edition saw a good show from India as they beat Thailand and despite losing to UAE, Chhetri and co went into the match against Bahrain with a chance to make the knockout stages. However, a late goal for Bahrain proved to be the decider as India ended up missing the berth by the slightest of margins.
India’s matches –
January 13: Australia vs India (17:00 IST)
January 18: India vs Uzbekistan (20:00 IST)
January 23: Syria vs India (17:00 IST)
India’s squad for AFC Asian Cup 2024 –
Goalkeepers:Amrinder Singh, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Vishal Kaith
Defenders:Akash Mishra, Lalchungnunga, Mehtab Singh, Nikhil Poojary, Pritam Kotal, Rahul Bheke, Sandesh Jhingan, Subhasish Bose
Midfielders:Anirudh Thapa, Brandon Fernandes, Deepak Tangri, Lalengmawia Ralte, Liston Colaco, Naorem Mahesh Singh, Sahal Abdul Samad, Suresh Singh Wangjam, Udanta Singh
Forwards:Ishan Pandita, Lallianzuala Chhangte, Manvir Singh, Rahul Kannoly Praveen, Sunil Chhetri, Vikram Partap Singh.
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