Syria and India will face off in their last game of Group B in the Asia Cup. The Syrians enter this matchup ranked third in the group. They are one point ahead of the Blue Tigers, who lost 3-0 against Uzbekistan. The Syrians lost 1-0 to Australia.
Preview (Syria vs. India)
On Thursday, the Syrians played excellent defense against the Socceroos. It was insufficient as they gave up just one goal on target and still lost. They lost the match, their first of 2024, and now they have lost five straight games across all competitions. Not only would a victory on Tuesday be this country’s first in the tournament’s group stage since 2011, but it would also guarantee their first-ever trip to the knockout stage. Ten of their twelve games under Hector Cuper have ended in a goal or less. Only two of those games ended in victories for Syria.
Since Cuper took over, they have scored one goal or fewer in nine games. They have failed to score in the first half in five straight games across all competitions. Since winning 1-0 in a friendly in August 2009, they have not defeated India in more than 14 years. For the second straight game, India put on a great first half. Some mental errors in the second half proved to be their downfall. This time, though, it was the first half that proved to be fatal. The Blue Tigers trailed by three at the half after giving up after only four minutes of play.
India has yet to win a game in this competition when they fail to score in the first half, and they have lost every Asian Cup group match in which they were behind at the break. India has only scored once in their two previous Asian Cup group-stage victories in the twenty-first century. After winning the South Asian Football Federation Championship in July 2023, Igor Stimac’s team has only won one of the following five games, losing their last three games by an 8-0 margin. For the Blue Tigers to have any chance of moving on, they must either win by a large margin or receive a lot of assistance.
From the first to the second matchday, Cuper stuck with the same starting lineup for Syria, adding only Antonio Yakoub—who made his tournament debut by taking Ibrahim Hesar’s place—to the starting lineup. Mahmoud Al Aswad, making just his third appearance for the national team. He was replaced as a substitute by Fahd Youssef, who moved to within eight caps of 50. Ammar Ramadan crossed the double-digit cap threshold in that match. After replacing Pablo Sabbag in the 65th minute, Omar Khribin is still one goal behind Zyad Chaabo for fifth place all-time.
Lallianzuala Chhangte and Amrinder Singh will not play for India against Uzbekistan since they reportedly had knocks during training. This adds to the team’s already extensive injury list, which already included the absence of Anisa Anwar Ali and Jeakson Singh Thounaojam, who were ruled out of contention before the competition even started. Three players were added to the Blue Tigers starting eleven between matchdays one and two: Anirudh Thapa, Naorem Mahesh Singh, and Akash Mishra replaced Subhasish Bose, Deepak Tangri, and Chhangte.
Syria 1-0 India
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