AFC Asian Cup, World Cup 2026 Qualifiers at SIGHT- What’s next for Blue Tigers?

Sunil Chhetri and co won the SAFF Championship 2023 final with a 5-4 penalty shootout victory over Kuwait. Igor Stimac’s team won thanks to a vital save by Gurpreet Singh Sandhu. Shabaib Alkhaldi of Kuwait scored in the 13th minute by putting the ball into the net. The Indian Football Team, on the other hand, equalised in the 38th minute when Lallianzuala Chhangte blasted in Sahal Abdul Samad’s cross pass.

Gurpreet Singh Sandhu’s game-winning save gave India its seventh SAFF Championship championship, maintaining the country’s regional supremacy. The match concluded 1-1 after 120 minutes, with Kuwait taking an early lead through Shabaib Al-Khaldi and India equalising with Lallianzuala Chhangte. Igor Stimac became the first foreign head coach in history to win consecutive SAFF Championships.

India triumphed both the Tri-Nations Series in Manipur in March and the Intercontinental Cup this year. They defeated Lebanon and Kyrgyzstan, both of which had better rankings at the time, with ease.

After a short break, the Indian national football team, will resume their action in the upcoming international window in September. The 49th edition of the King’s Cup is scheduled to take place in Thailand from September 7 to 10. India will compete against the host nation, Thailand, as well as Iraq and familiar rivals Lebanon in this four-nation tournament. The tournament will follow a knockout format.

In the same international window, India is also expected to participate in the Asian Games. However, due to prior commitments, they might choose to field an under-23 squad for the tournament.

Following their King’s Cup participation, Sunil Chhetri and Company will have another task the following month. India’s participation in the Merdeka Cup, which will take place from October 14 to October 17, has already been confirmed by the Malaysian FA. The four competing teams are the Blue Tigers, Palestine, Lebanon, and the hosts Malaysia.

AFC Asian Cup 2023:

Igor Stimac, the head coach, had previously emphasised the need for a four-week training camp before the continental competition. But it’s still unclear how the All India Football Federation (AIFF) would lay out the precise schedule. There may be an effort to squeeze in a few friendlies before India begin their AFC Asian Cup campaign, which will begin on January 13, if enough time is given. The Blue Tigers will compete in the competition in Group B with Syria, Uzbekistan, and Australia.

The Indian men’s national football team has risen from 101 to 100 in the current FIFA World Rankings, overtaking Lebanon and New Zealand. This is the Blue Tigers’ first appearance in the top 100 in the worldwide rankings since December 20, 2018.

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