Indian football team will face its toughest test in the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers when it takes on Asia’s highest ranked side Iran at their own backyard on Thursday. 160th-ranked India were dealt a body blow when Sunil Chhetri, the country’s highest scorer in international football, was ruled out with a groin injury. The India vs Iran football match will not be telecast in India and thus no streaming will be available. However, Official Twitter account of All India Football Federation (AIFF) will provide the live updates here.
In Chhetri’s absence, the mantle of leading the side has fallen on the young shoulders of Jeje Lalpekhlua. The Indians, whose campaign have been nothing short of a disaster, are currently placed last in their group and will have one home match against Turkmenistan on March 29 left after the Iran game.
A loss tomorrow against the Asian heavyweights Iran, who are ranked as high as 44th in the current FIFA rankings, will also throw the Indians out of contention for a berth for the 2019 Asian Cup from this campaign, which also doubles up as the qualifying tournament for the continental showpiece.
Guam, who are currently on fourth spot in Group D, are four points above India who will end at the bottom if they lose on Thursday.
India, who had also failed to qualify for the 2015 Asian Cup, will then have to play a separate play-offs round to book a berth for the final qualifying round of the 2019 edition.
Coach Stephen Constantine is aware that the game at the Azadi Stadium will stretch his team to the limit. “Playing Iran in Iran is as tough as it can get. It’s like David vs Goliath on the field. Iran are the Giants of Asia,” Constantine said at the pre-match media interaction.
The Briton, who is in his second stint with the team, added, “We have huge respect for Iran. We understand that we will be without the ball for most part of the match. We will try to stop them. We will fight and try to get something out from the match.” (PTI). (Image- Twitter/@AiffMedia)