New Delhi [India], January 11: India will kickstart its Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup 2023 campaign in Qatar from January 13 onwards against Australia and this is their fifth time featuring in the tournament. They are placed with Australia, Uzbekistan, and Syria in Group B and will be aiming to avoid three losses and possibly win against one of the higher-ranked teams. India is ranked 102 in FIFA, while their opponents are ranked 25, 68, and 91 respectively. They will be aiming to remove the pain of Group Stage exits in 1984, 2011 and 2019 and do better than their debut outing in 1964, where they finished as runners-up. They have been drawn in Group B alongside the Aussies (January 13), Uzbekistan (January 18), and Syria (January 23). Only two people remain in the current Blue Tigers side from the outfit that faced Australia 12 years ago - striker Sunil Chhetri and goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu. The final will be played on February 10 in Lusail. Olympic Gold Medalist Neeraj Chopra Sends Encouraging Message For Indian Football Team Ahead of AFC Asian Cup 2023.

Here is a look at India's opponents ahead of the tournament:


Team nickname: Socceroos :: FIFA ranking: 25 :: AFC Asian Cup records (quarter-finals and beyond): 2007: Quarter-finals; 2011: Runners-up; 2015: Champions; 2019: Quarter-finals

Head coach: Graham Arnold (Australia)

India vs Australia head-to-head: 3 matches: India won 2: lost 1: Goals scored 11: Goals conceded 5

Key players:

Mathew Ryan (goalkeeper):  Like Indian skipper Sunil Chhetri, his Australian counterpart, Mathew Ryan, will play his third Asian Cup final rounds in Doha. Having also played in three World Cups, the seasoned goalkeeper recently underwent surgery for a fractured cheekbone and is doing his best to regain the highest level of fitness. Yet, the much-travelled Ryan, who currently plays in the Dutch league for AZ Alkmaar, is there in Doha as the leading figure in the upcoming campaign, as per an All India Football Federation (AIFF) press release.

Harry Souttar (defender): Often described as an "unbelievable" defender, the 25-year-old Leicester City centre-back played for Scotland at the youth level before opting to play for Australia in the seniors at the age of 20. A highly dependable player, he made his senior debut against Nepal and also played in the Olympics. However, Souttar is in Doha, gaining little game time this season in the league under Leicester City coach Enzo Maresca.

Riley McGree (midfielder):

A versatile attacking midfielder with a keen sense of scoring, McGree's selection is a huge boost for Australia. He sustained a foot injury while playing for Middlesbrough in early October last year and could not play a few of the crucial friendly matches. Despite a few disciplinary issues, McGree has been an exceptional player for the National Team since his debut at the U17 stage, which was evident in the Qatar World Cup.


Team nickname: White Wolves :: FIFA ranking: 68 :: AFC Asian Cup records (quarter-finals and beyond): 2004: Quarter-finals; 2007: Quarter-finals; 2011: Fourth place; 2015: Quarter-finals

Head coach: Srecko Katanec (Slovenia)

India vs Uzbekistan head-to-head: 8 matches: India won 1: lost 5: drawn 1: Goals scored: 6 Goals conceded: 14

Key players:

Igor Vladimirovich Sergeyev (forward): Currently, with PG Pathum United at the club level, Sergeyev is a natural striker with power and precision who scored several key goals for his national team. An automatic choice of almost every national coach, the former Pakhtakor Tashkent star has appeared for his country 69 times so far and is expected to be one of the mainstays of the team. He has been a rage in domestic football for his glamorous flair on the pitch.

Abbosbek Fayzullaev (Midfielder): The 20-year-old burst onto the scene like a raging fire that saw him finding a berth in the Senior National Team soon after making his mark for the Uzbekistan U20 and U23 sides. In the AFC U20 Asian Cup, Fayzullaev bagged the Most Valuable Player award with an impressive display. In Doha, the youngster, who plays for CSKA Moscow, could play a key role in Uzbekistan's campaign.

Oston Urunov (midfielder): Indian fans following Mumbai City FC got a taste of Oston Urunov's impact in the midfield for Navbahor FC during the AFC Champions League campaign. Having made his debut for the National Team in 2019, the 23-year-old has become an integral part of Srecko Katanec's squad because of his ability to adapt to the situation during difficult times on the pitch. Former England Manager Sven-Goran Eriksson Reveals Cancer Diagnosis, Says at Best ‘Only Has a Year To Live’.


Team nickname: Eagles of Qasioun  :: FIFA ranking: 91  :: AFC Asian Cup records (quarter-finals and beyond): Appeared in six editions but were eliminated in the first rounds

Head coach: Hector Cuper (Argentina)

India vs. Syria head-to-head: 6 matches: India won 2; lost 2; drawn 1; goals scored: 7; goals conceded: 7

Key players:

Omar Khribin (forward): The 29-year-old is a celebrity back in his country and one of the finest players to be seen in Doha during the Asian Cup. The first Syrian footballer to win the Asian Footballer of the Year award, Khirbin is skilled and possesses all the weapons to catch his rivals on the wrong foot. Having already scored 21 goals in 54 appearances for the national team, he could well be the man to watch out for in the Indian defence.

Ibrahim Alma (goalkeeper): A hugely reliable goalkeeper, the Syrian star is one of the most experienced players in this edition of the Asian Cup in Doha. The 32-year-old made his debut for the national team in 2012 and has since guarded the citadel on 84 occasions. He is no stranger to Indian football, as the Blue Tigers have often played against Syria in the recent past, with Alma always there under the goal.

Amro Jeniat (defender): One of Syria's most trustworthy defenders, Jeniat, has been a part of the national team for nearly 10 years now and has so far appeared in 48 matches. He plays for Al-Karamah in club football and this would be his second appearance in the Asian Cup after 2019. (ANI)

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