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Updated January 20th, 2024 at 14:15 IST

AFC Asian Cup: Here's how it's still possible for India to qualify for Round of 16 despite 2 losses

After a poor showing in the AFC Asian Cup so far, the Indian Football Team will look to bounce back against Syria; can they still qualify for the RO16? Learn.

Sunil Chhetri
Sunil Chhetri | Image:AP
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In a crucial Group B encounter, India faces Syria in the AFC Asian Cup. India, following defeats to Australia and Uzbekistan, aims to salvage pride. Syria, seeking a strong finish, holds the advantage. Both teams will battle fiercely for a much-needed win, promising an intense and exciting clash. This is Sunil Chhetri’s last ever AFC Asian Cup tournament, and the 39-year-old legend has given his sweat and blood on the pitch for the national team. 

3 things you need to know 

  • India vs Syria will be played January 23, 2024
  • India lost their first match to Australia 
  • India lost their second match to Uzbekistan 

Also Read: Cristiano Ronaldo picks 2023/24 UCL favourites

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Will India be able to qualify for the knock-out stages of the AFC Asian Cup despite 2 losses already?

India is now at the bottom of AFC Asian Cup 2023 Group B, facing a difficult trip through the competition. After losing their first two matches against Australia and Uzbekistan, India's chances of finishing in the top two of Group B have dwindled. The approaching vital encounter against Syria is not only a question of pride, but also a 'do-or-die' situation that will eventually decide the destiny of the Blue Tigers in this renowned championship.

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In the early stages of the competition, India suffered their first loss in a hard-fought struggle against Australia, losing 2-0 despite their brave efforts. The second blow came from Uzbekistan, who defeated the squad 3-0, showing areas for growth.

As India prepares for their crucial group-stage encounter against Syria on January 23, the arithmetic is simple: a win is essential; the fans have shown their disappointment to Igor Stimac’s side and they will look to win the match. Anything less than a victory would result in an early elimination from the tournament and would mark one of the worst performances under Stimac. However, a win over Syria may not be enough for India to finish in the top two of Group B but could give them a little hope.

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According to the current rankings, Australia and Uzbekistan are well-positioned to capture the top slots in Group B, making it a difficult assignment for Sunil Chhetri and co. to reach the summit.

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To keep their AFC Asian Cup hopes alive, the Indian football team must win against Syria while also relying on external elements that are beyond their control. The qualification scenario is dependent on India finishing as one of the six groups' top four third-place teams. The permutations and combinations are complicated, with each goal, point, and outcome determining India's fate. In this case, it's not just about winning, but also about the margin of victory against Syria as they already have a negative goal difference of -5, which is essential in establishing their status as the third-placed team.

Igor Stimac and his side will need a miracle to advance to the knockout round of the AFC Asian Cup, regardless of the competition's status, but one thing is certain: the government must promote the sport more frequently in the country in order for India to be competitive on a global scale.

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Published January 20th, 2024 at 14:14 IST

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