How India can qualify for the next round of World Cup qualifiers and Asian Cup finals

a) To qualify for next round of Fifa World Cup qualifiers and AFC Asian Cup finals
This is almost mission impossible for India after Thursday’s draw against Afghanistan left them seven points from the automatic qualifying spot and six behind second-placed Oman.

The Blue Tigers play Oman next on Tuesday and it will be a must-win game for Igor Stimac’s men if they are to harbour any hopes of creating history and advancing from the preliminary round for the first time.

Even if India manage to beat Oman they would need to make up three points on Oman and also have a better goal difference. India would need to then also beat Qatar at home along with registering wins over Bangladesh and Afghanistan to edge either Oman or Qatar to the qualifying places.

India’s performances in the last two matches don’t inspire confidence but if their displays in the games against Oman and Qatar were anything to go by, Stimac and Co may not be done just yet.

b) To make for 2023 AFC Asian Cup third round qualifiers
As things stand, this appears to be India’s realistic target from these qualifiers. The Blue Tigers currently occupy the last spot that would take them directly into the final round fo Asian Cup qualifiers.

To stay in those spots, India would need to beat Afghanistan and Bangladesh. If Qatar and Oman win their remaining games against the bottom three sides as expected, India would finish third and earn a place in the third round of Asian Cup qualifiers with wins over Afghanistan and Bangladesh.
If India fail to finish third or among the four best fouth-placed teams, they will have to play a playoff round to enter the third round.

India finished bottom of their group last time and had to win a playoff round against Laos to enter the third round of Asian Cup qualifiers. The Blue Tigers who picked up form during the final round of qualification topped their group to advance the 2019 AFC Asian Cup finals for the first time in eight years.

In UAE, India put up an impressive show, winning their first game at the finals in 55 years but succumbed to agonising losses against UAE and Bahrain to narrowly miss out on the knockout stage.

However, performances and results will have to drastically improve for Stimac to match or better what former coach Stephen Constantine achieved.


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