India vs Uzbekistan: Preview and Prediction

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India put in an applaudable performance against Australia

After their unfortunate 0-2 loss to Australia in the opener, India will take on Uzbekistan in the next AFC Asian Cup 2023. Both teams, hungry to make their presence felt, face off in a crucial Group B clash on Thursday at 8 PM IST with their hopes for progression hanging in the balance.

India was impressive against the much higher-ranked Australian side and showcased a newfound resilience and defensive solidity. The likes of Sandesh Jhingan and Deepak Tangri were at their very best and Australian coach Graham Arnold praised the team, complimenting Igor Stimac’s coaching abilities. 

The Blue Tigers now seek their first AFC Asian Cup win in 55 years and will bank on the passionate home support in Qatar to fuel their fight against Uzbekistan who come into the tournament with pedigree and experience. 

Ranked 68th in the FIFA rankings, the White Wolves boast a talented squad featuring the likes of Eldor Shomurodov and Igor Sergeyev. They started their campaign with a 0-0 draw against Syria and coach Srečko Katanec will demand sharper finishing against a more resolute Indian defense.

Current Form

Uzbekistan came into this tournament riding high after a strong qualification campaign that saw them win all three of their games against the Maldives, Thailand, and Sri Lanka. In their last seven games across all competitions, they have also not lost, winning five and just drawing two. 

Their last loss, was in fact against the United States of America in September 2023 which further underlines how big a force they are when it comes to football in Central Asia.

Before the loss to the Socceroos, India’s results ranged from a solid victory against Kuwait on November 16th, 2023 to encounters with Qatar, Malaysia, Lebanon, and Iraq resulting in a combination of losses and draws. 

However, if not for a mistake by Gurpreet Singh Sandhu and Sunil Chhetri missing a half-chance, India could have just as easily scripted history in the AFC Asian Cup on 13th January.

Head to Head Record

History has not been on India’s side when it comes to clashes with Uzbekistan. The two teams have met a total of 6 times with the Uzbeks knocking India flat on four occasions and the two others having played out as stalemates. 

The Blue Tigers last faced the White Wolves way back in 2001 which ended with a 2-1 loss for Men In Blue. IM Vijayan scored the solitary goal for India that night.

Team News

Igor Stimac might field an unchanged starting XI but the choice of substitutions should change

Sahal Abdul Samad is nursing his injury and has resumed training ahead of the clash against Uzbekistan but Igor Stimac would feel that fielding the attacking midfielder against Syria would be India’s best bet to take three points from their last group fixture.

In Sahal’s absence, Goa captain Brandon Fernandes would be hoping to get some minutes to unlock the Uzbek defense as Naorem Mahesh Singh and Lallianzuala Chhangte’s pace down the flanks could cause the White Wolves problems on Thursday.

The absence of forward Eldor Shomurodov hurt the side’s chances in their first game and will continue to do so against India too. The Cagilari forward suffered a horrifying leg injury in December which completely ruled him out of the ongoing AFC Cup campaign.

Predicted Starting XIs

India (4-3-3): Gurpreet Singh Sandhu; Nikhil Poojary, Rahul Bheke, Sandesh Jhingan, Subhasish Bose; Suresh Singh Wangjam, Deepak Tangri, Apuia Ralte; Manvir Singh, Sunil Chhetri, Lallianzuala Chhangte.

Uzbekistan (4-4-2): Utkir Yusupov; Farruh Sayfiev, Khojiakbar Alijonov, Rustamjon Ashurmatov, Sherzod Nasrullaev; Otabek Shukurov, Odiljon Hamrobekov, Shokhboz Umarov, Abbosbek Fayzullaev; Igor Sergeyev, Jaloliddin Masharipov.


For India, a loss essentially would mean that the Blue Tigers are out of the tournament. Although the odds are against the Blue Tigers, they can capitalize on the misfiring Uzbeks and make their mark with a draw and keep their hopes alive. With the raucous Indian diaspora showcasing their support for the boys, a massive upset could also be on the cards.