The Indian National Football Team will square off against Central Asian nation Tajikistan in an international friendly match on 31st March 2020 in Dushanbe, five days after hosting Qatar in a 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers encounter in Bhubaneswar. The Blue Tigers announced the same via their Twitter handle.
India last played Tajikistan at the Intercontinental Cup in Ahmedabad on July. The Sunil Chhetri-led side led the contest 2-0 at half-time courtesy of a brace from the skipper. But, Tajikistan mounted a valiant comeback in the second half to come out as 4-2 victors.
Komron Tursunov, who plies his trade with I-League club Mohun Bagan in India presently, scored a goal in that match. Tajikistan finished as runners-up of the tournament, losing to DPR Korea in the final.
India's U-23 team also locked horns with Tajikistan's counterpart at the AFC U-23 Championship Qualifiers last year in Uzbekistan, where the Blue Colts got pipped 2-0.
India's 2022 FIFA World Cup Campaign isn't treading smoothly as they are yet to pick up a single win in their five contests. They sit at the fourth position with three points from five matches.
Tajikistan, on the other hand, occupy the third spot in Group F of the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers currently with 7 points from 3 matches, level on points with second-placed Kyrgyzstan. Japan are leading their group with 12 points from 4 matches.
India's mathematical possibility to qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup is still intact. But, it is heavily depended on the results of other countries, Oman in particular. This friendly will help head coach Igor Stimac assess the squad more in depth ahead of the 2023 AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers, whose play-off round will begin in September this year.
Although Tajikistan are ranked 13 places below India at the 121st position in the FIFA Rankings ladder, India shouldn't take them lightly. Moreover, one should remember that the Blue Tigers shared the spoils with Bangladesh and Afghanistan more recently, who are ranked much lower than Tajikistan.