Since the disastrous result against UAE in March, the Indian team has displayed better performances this month. This is despite the fact that after the 6-0 loss to the UAE, the players would've been low on morale. Adding to their misery, the Indians couldn't find the time to train adequately before their fixture against Qatar.
However, the team showed immense fortitude to put up a fight against the reigning Asian champions Qatar, losing by a slim margin of one goal. Just a few days later, the Blue Tigers beat their neighbors Bangladesh 2-0 to win their first match of the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers.
Sunil Chhetri's brace powered him to second position on the list of active international goal-scorers, overtaking Lionel Messi.
The Indian team now sits third in the Group E table, with 6 points from 7 matches. They need at least a draw against Afghanistan to finish in the same position and book a place in the Asian Cup Qualifiers final round.
Afghanistan are the second-lowest ranked team in Group E, ahead of Bangladesh with a FIFA ranking of 149. They are 44 places below India according to the FIFA Rankings, but they shouldn't be taken lightly.
Until the previous matchday, Afghanistan were in third place in the Group E table while India were below them in fourth.
Afghanistan have managed one win and two draws in the ongoing FIFA World Cup Qualifiers. Their solitary win came against Bangladesh in the first round of matches earlier in the campaign.
Before their second match against Bangladesh, Afghanistan played two friendlies against Indonesia and Singapore to gain match practice and fitness.
However, Afghanistan were only able to secure a draw against Bangladesh when they met this time. Subsequently, they bottled a lead against Oman to lose the match 2-1.
The Afghans will be banking on the experience of players like Zohib Amiri and Faysal Shayesteh to take them over the line against India. Afghanistan will be desperate to win this match and make third place their own.
India vs Afghanistan prediction
The stage is set for the final matchday of Group E. Both teams will be hoping to get a favorable result, given the magnitude of the stakes. A draw or win for India will send them to the final round of Asian Cup Qualifiers, while Afghanistan needs to win the match outright.
The losing side will have to wait for their fate as the result of the match between Hong Kong and Bahrain will determine what happens next.
If Hong Kong loses against their counterparts, the losing team of the India-Afghanistan encounter will still make it to the Asian Qualifiers in the last round. If Hong Kong doesn't lose, the losing team will have to go through additional rounds of the Asian qualifiers.
India look better poised with sufficient rest and recovery time since their previous match. Meanwhile, Afghanistan will be playing their second match in five days.
One thing is for sure - the match will keep fans on the edge of their seats for the whole ninety minutes.
Prediction: India 2-1 Afghanistan