Syria vs India: Preview and Prediction
As we are inching towards the knockout round of the 2023 AFC Asian Cup, the Matchday 3 of the group stages is all set to roll. The sleeping giants India will finish their continental campaign by facing the Western Asian challengers Syria in an intense footballing combat. The final fixture of Group B will take place at Al Khor city’s Al-Bayt Stadium this Tuesday.
India’s road to the knockouts of the Asian continent’s biggest international competition has almost come to an end as they are on the verge of facing elimination. Igor’s boys have currently occupied the bottom-most position in Group B after failing to fetch even a single point yet.
On the other hand, Syria has plenty to win from their last group fixture with the South Asian giants as a three-point prowess from this contest may take them through to the knockout round. The entire Nosour Qasioun side has got the back of the Argentine head coach Hector Cuper who is promising them their best-ever Asian Cup campaign to date.
The Blue Tigers could not perform up to the expectations of billions of supporters who were rooting for them to qualify for the knockouts after losing both of their first two group games.
Despite putting on their level-best performances on both occasions, skipper Sunil Chhetri and his men ended up on the losing side both times. Goals, or thereby the lack of them, have been the major concern for the gaffer Igor Stimac as the Indian attack is yet to score their first goal in this tournament in spite of conceding five goals in two appearances.
It is now evident that Syria cannot top the group and they are now focusing on a possible knockout qualification by securing second or third place in the Group B table. A goalless draw with Uzbekistan in their opening game has kept them alive in the qualification scenario.
The Syrian Eagles may have not opened their goal account in this competition but their defensive prowess of conceding only a single goal in two games is quite commendable.
Head to Head Record
India has showcased sheer dominance over its West Asian counterparts over the last decade winning three and losing only a single face-off in the last five meetings. Syria’s solitary recent triumph over the Blue Tigers came in the 2009 Nehru Cup when Team India rested the stars Sunil Chhetri and Bhaichung Bhutia for the dead-rubber clash.
The most recent chapter of this rivalry was the 2019 edition of the AIFF-organized Intercontinental Cup where the WAFF member nation joined the tournament as the highest-ranked participant.
The ultimate face-off which had no impact on the multinational saga’s finale race was staged at EKA Arena of Ahmedabad. The hosts took the lead with Narender Gehlot’s early second-half strike however, an equalizing penalty conversion by Firas Al-Khatib in the 78th minute eventually settled the score.
Cuper named an unchanged starting XI for their recent clash with Australia and the unit performed very well against the AFC heavyweights. Hence we may expect him to progress with the same core against India as well. The only change in this Syrian side we can speculate is the inclusion of the veteran Omar Khirbin in the forward line in place of Pablo Sabbag.
The Blue Tigers are expected to make hefty changes in their lineup after delivering a flop show against Uzbekistan when their chances to triumph were quite high. India’s midfield sensation Sahal Abdul Samad who missed the initial games is likely to recover by the time and make himself available for the nation’s final appearance.
Meanwhile, there are no signs of quick recoveries from Lallianzuala Chhangte and Amrinder Singh who are all set to miss yet another game due to their respective injuries.
Predicted Starting XIs
Syria (4-4-2): Ahmad Madania; Abdul Rahman Oues, Aiham Ousou, Thaer Krouma, Moayad Ajan; Mahmoud Al Aswad, Jalil Elias, Ezequiel Ham, Ammar Ramadan; Ibrahim Hesar, Omar Khirbin
India (4-2-3-1): Gurpreet Singh Sandhu; Nikhil Poojary, Sandesh Jhingan, Rahul Bheke, Akash Mishra; Suresh Singh Wangjam, Lalengmawia Ralte; Manvir Singh, Sahal Abdul Samad, Naorem Mahesh Singh; Sunil Chhetri
Considering current form as the key prediction aspect, Syria seems to be the favorite to clinch all three points from this contest. India has nothing to lose and if they are able to adopt the fearless approach then there are bright chances for them to bring an end to their four-match losing streak at the biggest stage of continental international football.