Syria and India are set to play against each other for the first time in the Asian Cup on Tuesday at Al Bayt Stadium.
Syria is ranked third in Group B after losing 1-0 to Australia, while India, who suffered their second defeat of the tournament, lost 3-0 against Uzbekistan.
During their match against the Socceroos, the Syrians put up a good defense, but it was not enough as they lost despite only conceding one effort on target.
This defeat extends their winless run to five successive matches in all competitions. If they win this match, it would be the first time since 2011 that they have won a group stage match in this tournament and also their first time qualifying for the knockout stage.
Under Hector Cuper, Syria has played 12 matches, ten of which have been decided by a goal or fewer. Unfortunately, they’ve emerged victorious only twice.
They have scored a goal or fewer in nine matches since Cuper took charge, and they haven’t netted an opening-half strike in five successive encounters in all competitions. Syria hasn’t beaten India since 2009, where they won 1-0 in a friendly match.
India played well in the last 45 minutes of their match against Uzbekistan, but some mental lapses in the other half proved to be their undoing.
This time, though, it was the opening half which did them in, with the Blue Tigers conceding after only four minutes, and they were down by three at the interval. India has lost every Asian Cup group fixture in which they were behind at halftime.
Also, they have yet to win a match in this competition when failing to score in the opening half. In the 21st century, India has never won their final Asian Cup group fixture, scoring only once on those two previous occasions.
Syria Asian Cup form: DL
Syria form (all competitions): WLDDDL
India Asian Cup form: LL
India Form (all competitions): W-L-W-L-L-L
Cuper went with the same starting 11 for Syria from matchday one to two, with just one newcomer featuring against Australia as Antonio Yakoub saw his first action of the tournament, replacing Ibrahim Hesar in the latter stages.
Ammar Ramadan reached the double-digit mark for caps in that contest, and Fahd Youssef moved to within eight caps of 50, coming on as a substitute in place of Mahmoud Al Aswad, who made just his third appearance for the national team.
Omar Khribin came on for Pablo Sabbag in the 65th minute but remains one goal behind Zyad Chaabo for fifth all time.
Lallianzuala Chhangte and Amrinder Singh reportedly sustained knocks in training, causing them to miss India’s match versus Uzbekistan.
That adds to the long list of injuries for this team, which had already been without Anisa Anwar Ali and Jeakson Singh Thounaojam, who were not selected due to injuries before this tournament began.
From matchday one to two, there were three changes to the Blue Tigers starting 11 with Akash Mishra, Anirudh Thapa and Naorem Mahesh Singh coming in for Subhasish Bose, Deepak Tangri and Chhangte.
Syria possible starting lineup: (4-4-2)
Weiss, Ousou, Krouma, Ajan;
Al Aswad, Elias, Ham, Ramadan;
India possible starting lineup: (4-2-3-1)
Poojary, Jhingan, Bheke, Mishra;
M. Singh, Samad, Kumam;
Prediction: Syria 1-0 India
Injuries and mental lapses have been a thorn in India’s flesh throughout the tournament, while Syria does not make nearly as many mistakes as the Blue Tigers. That is why we are giving the Syrians the edge in this contest, and we predict a 1-0 win for Syria.