• Tuesday, March 05, 2024

FOOTBALL

Asian Cup football: India coach bets on vocal fans ahead of must-win game against Uzbekistan

There are an estimated 750,000 Indians living in Qatar, which has a population of nearly three million, and Indians fans roared on their team despite an opening 2-0 defeat to Australia.

India’s Lallianzuala Chhangte runs with the ball whilst under pressure from Martin Boyle of Australia during an AFC Asian Cup Group B match at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium on January 13, 2024, in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

By: India Weekly

IGOR Stimac says that India’s massed ranks of vocal fans can be the difference when his underdogs face a tough Uzbekistan test at the Asian Cup in Qatar on Thursday.

There are an estimated 750,000 Indians living in Qatar, which has a population of nearly three million, and Indians fans roared on their team despite an opening 2-0 defeat to Australia.

There was a crowd of over 36,000 at Ahmad bin Ali Stadium in Doha for the game on Saturday, most of them Indian, and Stimac is anticipating an even bigger turnout against Uzbekistan.

“We are expecting a huge number, an even bigger number now in this match,” the India coach, a former international defender for Croatia, said on Wednesday.

The game against Australia kicked off in the early afternoon but it will be a later start time of 5:30 pm (1430 GMT) against Uzbekistan.

Stimac, part of the Croatia side that reached the 1998 World Cup semi-finals, believes that will mean even more Indian fans coming out.

“It’s a much better kickoff time, much more convenient for them to attend,” said the 56-year-old.

“They might be the crucial point for us in this game, and once again, a huge, huge thanks to all of them.”

Uzbekistan, ranked 68 in the world to India’s 102, began their Asian Cup with a 0-0 draw against Syria.

(AFP)

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