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From 1964 Finals to consecutive group stage exits: Looking back at Blue Tiger’s journey in AFC Asian Cup

From 1964 Finals to consecutive group stage exits: Looking back at Blue Tiger’s journey in AFC Asian Cup

Reflecting on the Indian Football Team's journey in the AFC Asian Cup.

The Indian football team is gearing up for the upcoming AFC Asian Cup in Qatar in January 2024. This will mark the fifth edition of the competition in which the Blue Tigers will be participating, and Igor Stimac’s side is determined to make an impact in a challenging group.

India has a somewhat disappointing history in terms of their participation in Asia’s premier competition. In the last three editions, the Blue Tigers were eliminated in the group stages. They came remarkably close to advancing beyond the group stage in the 2019 edition, only for their hopes to be dashed by a heartbreaking last-minute loss in their final group game against Bahrain. Let’s take a closer look at how India has performed in the tournament thus far.

The 1964 Golden Era in AFC Asian Cup 2023:

Indian Football Team made their debut in the AFC Asian Cup finals in 1964, marking the Blue Tigers’ most noteworthy performance in the competition’s history. Despite finishing as runners-up after a loss to Israel in the final, it’s important to note that only four teams participated due to several Asian countries withdrawing for political reasons.

From 1964 Finals to consecutive group stage exits: Looking back at Indian Football Team's history in AFC Asian Cup

Subsequently, India had to wait for two decades to re-enter the AFC Asian Cup in 1984. Placed in Group B alongside China, Iran, UAE, and Singapore in the 10-team competition, India faced elimination after losing three games and drawing one against Iran, ultimately finishing at the bottom of the Group B points table. Saudi Arabia emerged as the Asian champion that year.

Back-to-back group exits in AFC Asian Cup:

The next appearance for India in the AFC Asian Cup occurred 27 years later, in 2011. Qualifying for the event by winning the 2008 AFC Challenge Cup, India faced tough competition in the group stage, losing all three matches against Australia, South Korea, and Bahrain, leading to their elimination. Japan secured the championship by defeating Australia in the final.

From 1964 Finals to consecutive group stage exits: Looking back at Indian Football Team's history in AFC Asian Cup

India’s fourth AFC Asian Cup qualification transpired in 2019. Drawn in Group A alongside hosts UAE, Thailand, and Bahrain, India started with a 4-1 victory against Thailand. But couldn’t advance, losing the subsequent matches against UAE and Bahrain. Qatar claimed its first title in 2019 by defeating Japan in the final.

India have been drawn in the Group B of the AFC Asian Cup 2023 alongside Australia, Uzbekistan and Syria. Blue Tigers will begin their campaign on 12th January against Australia as they look for redemption.

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