India vs Afghanistan: Preview and Prediction

India’s dismal performance away from Afghanistan is of grave concern

The Indian national men’s football team is all set to take on Afghanistan again in Round 2 of the 2026 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers and the preliminary Joint Qualifiers of the AFC Asian Cup 2027. The fixture will take place at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati and the action will kick off from 7:30 PM IST on Tuesday.

India, currently ranked 117 in FIFA rankings, is yet to win a game in 2024. Under Croatian coach Igor Stimac, the Blue Tigers seemingly keep taking one step forward and two steps backwards. 

Their goalless draw in Damac against the same opposition a few days back yet again raised more questions than answers, with Stimac bemoaning missing chances and complicating the game needlessly. However, despite not being able to take 3 points, India is currently 2nd in Group A after Qatar, with 4 points from 3 games and is in the running to qualify for the third round.

Afghanistan on the other hand, have had massive turmoil going on and off the pitch and despite that, gave a good account of themselves in the last clash. The Lions of Khorasan are far more lowly ranked than India, but it seems former Bengaluru gaffer Ashley Westwood, who is currently in charge of them has drilled them with the necessary nuances to be able to compete with the Blue Tigers. 

The draw against India yielded them their first points in Group A but they are still firmly placed at the bottom of the table, with just 1 point from 3 games so far.

Current Form

As mentioned before, both India and Afghanistan come into the clash having played out a 0-0 draw on 22nd March. While the Afghans have not won an international fixture since September 2023, India has not netted an international goal in the last 465 minutes of play, their last strike being against Kuwait back in November 2023. It is the longest goal drought for the Blue Tigers since the turn of the century.

Head to Head Record

The two sides have faced each other 12 times so far, with 7 victories to India and only one to the Afghanis.

India has scored 20 goals against Afghanistan over the years, and the draw in Damac was the first time there has been a goalless clash between them. A win against Afghanistan at home is absolutely vital to Stimac and his men though, as then a draw against Kuwait in June again at home will practically seal their chances of going through to the next round. 

Team News

Afghanistan ‘B Team’ gave a solid performance in Damac

For Afghanistan, several key players will be missing again as they have been at war with the Afghanistan Football Federation since accusing them of indulging in corruption, including match-fixing. 

18 footballers boycotted their games against Kuwait and Qatar, which included team captain, Farshad Noor, and former captain, Faysal Shayesteh. However, the likes of Taufee Skandari, Zelfi Nazary and Mahboob Hanifi, who all impressed in the last clash will be keen to make an impact again.

For India, midfielder Jeakson Singh and defender Anwar Ali who missed the AFC Asian Cup made their returns to the national side in the last fixture and will be keen to make an impact at home again. Sandesh Jhingan will miss out again, while Sahal Abdul Samad will also not be in action considering he is set to be out for two weeks due to a hamstring injury he suffered in training before the clash on 22nd March.

Predicted Starting XIs

Afghanistan (4-4-2): Ovays Azizi; Mahboob Hanifi, Haroon Fakhruddin, Sharif Mukhammad, Habibulla Askar; Mosawer Ahadi, Zelfy Nazary, Rahmat Akbari, Taufee Skandari; Omid Popalzay, Jabar Sharza

India (4-4-2): Gurpeet Singh Sandhu; Nikhil Poojary, Anwar Ali, Rahul Bheke, Akash Mishra; Manvir Singh, Jeakson Singh, Apuia, Lallianzuala Chhangte; Sunil Chhetri, Vikram Partap Singh


India goes into the clash as favourites again, but there is immense pressure on Stimac to deliver a favorable result for the home side. His omission of midfielder Brandon Fernandes continues to baffle Indian football fans, and given the fixture would be Sunil Chhetri’s 150th international cap, it would be even more vital for the Blue Tigers to make the occasion a memorable one.