What Lies Ahead for the Indian Football Team After the Asian Games 2023 Exit. Indian football team put up a spirited performance in the Asian Games 2023 to reach the knockout stage. Although they were outdone by a superior Saudi Arabia side there are a lot of positives from this tourney. The fact that the Asian Games is a U23 tournament and by looking at the performance of young guns we can safely say that the future of Indian football is in safe hands.
In this article, we shall discuss upcoming challenges for the Indian football team and where they stand.
Indian Football Team Schedule After Asian Games 2023
AFC Asian Cup
The next big challenge in front of Igor Stimac’s side is the AFC Asian Cup. It will take place in January 2024 in Qatar. This is India’s consecutive appearance at the Asian Cup. In the 2019 edition, India could not win a single game but this time our team is much balanced and has an ideal mix of youngsters of experienced players. Therefore, fans are hoping that India will create history and qualify for the knockouts of the Asian Cup as well.
India is grouped with Australia, Uzbekistan, and Syria. India’s first match will be with the former Asian Cup champions – Australia. It is a very challenging group for India and if they want to move into the next round, India will have to play out of their skins.
World Cup Qualifiers
The World Cup qualifiers are the immediate challenge for Igor Stimac’s side. They will take on the formidable Qatar and Kuwait in the first and second rounds in November 2023. Given India’s rankings and the humungous challenge that it faces, even the most loyal fans are not too optimistic about India making it through to the World Cup. However, unlike previous qualifiers, India is no pushover and can upset even the best teams on its day. India’s qualifying group has Qatar, Kuwait, and Syria.
All these teams have better rankings and history on their side against India. India will have to take full use of the new talent coming through the ranks from ISL as well as the Asian Games campaign and properly groom them for bigger responsibilities.
Even though on paper India may be far behind you don’t play football on paper. India with its lion-hearted performances in recent times showed that they too can challenge the mightiest and even defeat them.
What Was Lacking in the Indian Football Team’s Performance at the Asian Games 2023
We cannot call the Asian Games campaign a failure but given India’s abilities and talent, one would feel that India had a good chance of winning a medal. The ride of the Indian team in the Asian Games was not very smooth. The IOA was not even ready to send the Indian football team to the Asian Games as there were disagreement among ISL clubs about letting go of players right at the start of the season.
Apart from that IOA reasoned that it would be a “waste of money” to spend on the team which had no chance of winning the medal. However, intervention from the Sports Ministry saved the day and the Indian team received a go-ahead to participate in the Asian Games. Thus, as there was no clarity about India playing in the Asian Games till the last moment, players and the coach did not have adequate preparation time. Unlike other teams that had camps several months ahead of the Asian Games, Indian players did not participate in any such camps to understand one another’s game and develop a winning team combination.