AFC Asian Cup: Bhaichung Bhutia backs India to ‘surprise’ Australia in group-stage clash


Former India captain Bhaichung Bhutia has backed Igor Stimac’s side to surprise Australia in their group-stage match in the AFC Asian Cup. India is set to take on Australia at the Ahmed bin Ali Stadium in Qatar on Saturday, January 13.

India have been placed alongside Australia, Syria and Uzbekistan in Group A. India, ranked 102, will open their campaign against 25th ranked Socceroos in Qatar.

Speaking to PTI, Bhutia said he won’t be surprised if India get a good result against Australia. In their previous competitive international game, India were handed a 0-3 defeat by Qatar in the qualifiers of the 2026 FIFA World Cup.

“You never know. I will not be surprised if India get a good result tomorrow, I mean we have the team to surprise them. You know, Australia is not the Australia of a decade ago. We also have made progress as a team,” said Bhutia.

Speaking about Sunil Chhetri, Bhutia called the India captain a wonderful player, who the team can depend on to score goals. Chhetri is India’s all-time top goal-scorer, netting 93 goals in 143 appearances.

“Chhetri is a wonderful player. The need of the hour is to score goals and it is soothing to know that we have a dependable player in that department. Every team needs someone to get those crucial strikes. Hopefully, we can provide some good assists to him and I am sure there will be a couple of chances to find the back of the net,” Bhutia added.

He went on to say that India’s match against Australia will be tough but not an impossible task. The top-two teams from each group will qualify for the knock-stage with the best four third-ranked teams also making it to the next round.

“Yes, it will be a tough match, but it is not an impossible task (to get a good result) for this side against them. First thing first, we need to tackle Australia. If we can get a good result against them, who knows,” said Bhutia.

India will first take on Australia on Saturday, before facing Uzbekistan on January 18 and Syria on January 23.

Published By:

Rounaq Sehrawat

Published On:

Jan 12, 2024

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