Indian senior men’s football team is gearing up to take on Lebanon in the 49th King’s Cup third-place play-off on Sunday, September 10, 2023. This eagerly anticipated match comes on the heels of India’s heart-wrenching defeat to Iraq on penalties. Here’s a preview of the India vs Lebanon Match before both teams gear up to face each other in Thailand.
Match Details | King’s Cup 2023 playoff match
The India vs Lebanon match will be the fourth encounter between the Blue Tigers and the West Asians in just three months. The match is scheduled to kick off at 16:00 IST and will be hosted at the illustrious 700th Anniversary Stadium in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
How to watch | India vs Lebanon, King’s Cup 2023 play-off match
The match can be seen LIVE on Eurosport in India.
India vs Lebanon | Past history
Notably, India has maintained an impeccable defensive record against Lebanon in their previous meetings. The series began with a goalless draw in the Intercontinental Cup, followed by a decisive 2-0 victory in the final held in Bhubaneswar. The two sides clashed once more in the SAFF Championship semi-finals, where India, under the guidance of coach Igor Stimac, emerged victorious after a penalty shootout following 120 goalless minutes.
Head-to-head stats | India vs Lebanon
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Team News | India vs Lebanon
Speaking at the pre-match press conference, Coach Stimac acknowledged the familiarity between the two teams, emphasizing the absence of secrets in their strategies. He said, “It’s now a regular competition between India and Lebanon. The fourth match in three months. We know each other very well. There is no secret. So for us coaches, it’s a much easier job. No need to analyze the opponents too much. So it’s just about concentrating and focusing on our own game, our players, and how to be effective on the pitch in 90 minutes.”
“It will be one open game:” Lebanon’s head coach, Aleksandar Ilic
Lebanon’s head coach, Aleksandar Ilic, who shares a history with Stimac as a former club teammate and friend, echoed similar sentiments. Lebanon is eager for redemption after facing defeat at the hands of the Blue Tigers in both of the previous summer tournaments held in India. Ilic commented, “It has started to become a strange competition between the two teams. We’ve already played a lot of games in the past. It will be one open game and, of course, both teams will try their best to succeed.”
Lebanon’s journey in the King’s Cup took a hit as they were defeated 1-2 by hosts Thailand in the second semi-final. Despite equalizing with a goal by Bassel Jrade, they couldn’t secure the win, succumbing to a late header by Teerasil Dangda. Meanwhile, India’s semi-final clash with Iraq also witnessed late drama, as Aymen Hussein’s equalizing penalty forced the match into a penalty shootout, ultimately leading to Iraq’s victory.
“We deserved more out of the game:” Igor Stimac on the defeat against Lebanon
Coach Stimac praised his team’s effort against the higher-ranked Iraq and expressed confidence in their abilities. He stated, “I was very happy with our boys’ efforts and performance against a much higher-ranked side like Iraq. We gave a good fight. You could clearly see that Iraq had more quality in their team, but in the end, we deserved more out of the game.”
Ilic acknowledged India’s growing strength and the need to respect their progress while emphasizing the pressure on his own team to secure a positive result.
Despite the pressure, Coach Stimac encouraged his players to focus on creativity and enjoyment, rather than being burdened by the result. He said, “We can expect an open game. I’m just asking my players to be creative on the pitch and enjoy and celebrate football when they come out on the pitch. I don’t want to put pressure on them at any time with regard to the result. It will be a joy for football, I hope.”