India vs Pakistan: Prediction, preview, predicted lineups, and more for 2023 SAFF Championship tie

Indian players training ahead of their clash against Pakistan.
Indian players training ahead of their clash against Pakistan. (Image Courtesy: AIFF Media)

Irrespective of the stakes or sport, when arch-rivals India and Pakistan collide, it's certain to be an absolute blockbuster event and that will be the case in the SAFF Championship 2023 as well.

The tournament will pit the two neighbouring nations against each other in their opening clash on Wednesday, June 21. The Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru will host this highly anticipated contest.

The Indian men's national team will come into this match fresh on the heels of winning the Intercontinental Cup 2023. The Blue Tigers breezed past the group stage in the competition, clinching victories against Mongolia and Vanuatu while drawing 0-0 against Lebanon.

In the grand final, the hosts met Lebanon yet again. The first half was expectedly a tightly-contested affair. However, after their lackluster showing, they came out rejuvenated after receiving an earful from the gaffer and breached the resilient opposition.

Skipper Sunil Chhetri put India ahead with a crucial strike in the 46th minute, while Lallianzuala Chhangte doubled their lead later in the game.

The aim for Igor Stimac's men will now be to build on the momentum of the previous competition and defending their SAFF Championship title.

Meanwhile, Pakistan will enter this competition after an underwhelming performance in the Four Nation Cup in Mauritius. The Falcons suffered defeats in all three matches, losing 1-0 to Kenya, 3-0 to Mauritius, and 3-1 to Djibouti.

Furthermore, the visitors are yet to arrive in Bengaluru for the clash due to visa issues and will have limited time to prepare for the clash.

India vs Pakistan: Predicted lineup for the SAFF Championship 2023 tie

India XI: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu; Nikhil Poojary, Anwar Ali, Sandesh Jhingan, Akash Mishra; Jeakson Singh, Anirudh Thapa, Sahal Abdul Samad; Naorem Mahesh Singh, Lallianzuala Chhangte, Sunil Chhetri.

Pakistan XI: Yousaf Ijaz Butt; Ali Khan Niazi, Easah Suliman, Haseeb Ahmed Khan, Alamgir Ali Khan Ghazi, Ali Uzair Mahmood, Rahis Nabi, Abdul Samad Shahzad, Otis Jan Mohammad Khan, Hassan Naweed Bashir.

India vs Pakistan: Prediction for the SAFF Championship 2023 tie

Given their recent performance, home advantage, and the opposition's travelling troubles, India are undoubtedly the favourites to win the game. The Blue Tigers are ranked soaringly higher than Pakistan, who are 195th in the world.

However, head coach Igor Stimac remained wary in the pre-match press conference. He believes the Falcons will definitely pose a few threats on the counter, which could certainly come into play.

Regardless, the reigning SAFF Championship holders, backed by what is expected to be a packed crowd in Bengaluru, should breeze past their arch-rivals.

Prediction: India 5-0 Pakistan.

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Edited by Anantaajith Raghuraman
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