India vs Afghanistan: Story of last three football matches between two neighbours
The Indian national football team will be facing Afghanistan on 14th November. The match will serve as a joint qualifier for the FIFA World Cup 2022 and AFC Cup 2023.
Two of the giants in South Asian football have been drawn in the same joint qualifying group for the FIFA World Cup and AFC Cup. The two nations have shared an intense rivalry in cricket recently and the football teams from the neighbouring nations have competing against each other for bragging rights since the 1950s.
The last three meetings between the two nations have all been featured in the South Asian Football Federations Cup. Let's have a look at them.
#1 India 2-1 Afghanistan (A.E.T.) (January 3, 2016)
India was the host and favourites of the 2015 SAFF Cup. They were placed in Group A and qualified for the semifinals with resounding wins over Sri Lanka and Nepal. Afghanistan topped Group B with victories over Bangladesh, Bhutan and Maldives.
After the one-sided semifinals, the two best teams of the tournament finally met in the final which was played at the Trivandrum International Stadium with 40,500 people attending the match.
Zubayr Amiri scored the first goal of the evening in the 70th minute with Jeje Lalpekhlua scoring the equalizer just two minutes after the goal that silenced the crowd in the stadium.
Captain fantastic Sunil Chhetri came up with the winning goal in the 101st minute that helped the Blue Tigers lift the SAFF Cup for the seventh time.
#2 Afghanistan 2-0 India (September 11, 2013)
Afghanistan announced themselves on the world stage with a fantastic 2-0 win over India in 2013. Although, the tournament is very minuscule compared to AFC Cup or any other continental cup, winning the SAFF Cup put the Afghans on the world map.
The Afghans went into the tournament as the best-ranked team according to FIFA rankings but India were still the favourites and defending champions. The Blue Tigers, placed in group A, struggled and finished in second position with just four points in three matches. On the other hand, Afghanistan steamrolled past Sri Lanka and Bhutan and drew against Maldives to qualify for the semifinals.
India upset the high scoring Maldives 1-0 in the semifinal while Afghanistan edged past hosts Nepal 1-0 as well. The two teams played against each other in the final at the Dasarath Rangasala Stadium in Kathmandu.
The Afghans opened the scoring early into the match through Mustafa Azadzoy in the ninth minute. The match was evenly poised till the 62nd-minute goal from Sandjar Ahmadi. The Blue Tigers could not score and the Afghans lifted their first-ever SAFF Cup.
#3 India 4-0 Afghanistan (December 11, 2011)
The first meeting between India and Afghanistan in a SAFF Cup final ended in a huge defeat for the Afghans.
The 2011 SAFF Cup was hosted in the Indian capital city of New Delhi. India and Afghanistan were placed in Group A as they defeated both Sri Lanka and Bhutan convincingly after playing out a 1-1 draw against each other. In the semifinals, India asserted their dominance over Maldives with a 3-1 win while Afghans just edged past Nepal in a 1-0 win after extra time.
As expected, India and Afghanistan was a tight affair in the final. It was played at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium with 30,000 people turning out to watch the match.
After 70 minutes of goalless action, Sunil Chhetri opened the scoring from the penalty spot. Clifford Miranda doubled the hosts lead in the 79th minute with Jeje Lalpekhlua adding another within 60 seconds of the restart of play. Sushil Kumar Singh scored another goal in the fifth minute of injury time to add insult to Afghan wounds.