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The Economic Times

FIFA World Cup qualifier, India vs Afghanistan: Astro turf, sub-zero conditions will make match tough, says India coach

By Philem Dipak Singh

Bracing up for an unfamiliar astroturf, sub-zero temperature and a sprightly opponent in Afghanistan, India's football coach Igor Stimac on Tuesday conceded his team's winless streak in the World Cup qualifiers won't be easy to break in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. The away fixture on November 14 is crucial for India to remain in the hunt in the World Cup qualifying.

The Afghans are placed third in the group with one win and two losses, a notch above India who have two draws and a defeat so far.

“The climatic condition in Dushanbe is different from what we have experienced in India at this time. It's very cold and mercury level drops to closer to sub-zero,” Stimac said.

The war-ravaged Afghanistan chose Dushanbe as home venue for the second round qualifiers of the World Cup. “The match is scheduled on an artificial turf, which our players are not used to. Afghanistan have chosen the venue to make others' life difficult,” he said.

India are fourth spot in Group E with just two points after consecutive draws against Asian champions Qatar and Bangladesh. They had lost to Oman in their first match on September 5 in Guwahati.

Stimac said a victory against Afghanistan will boost his side and will help build the momentum for the clash against Oman in the away matches in Muscat on November 19.

“We have improved a lot since our first game (against Oman)... The result against Afghanistan in Dushanbe will have a major impact on the team. A win will boost our confidence before we head to Muscat.”
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