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Asian Games Double-Header: Men’s, Women’s Football Squads Prepare for Challenge

Indian football fans wait with bated breath as both the men’s and women’s teams prepare for their respective matches in the Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, on Thursday.

While the men take on Bangladesh at the Xiaoshan Sports Centre, the women are set to play the Chinese Taipei at the Wenzhou Sports Olympic Centre Stadium.

Do-or-die affair against Bangladesh

India came out with all the gusto against hosts China in their opening match of the Games, but ran out of steam in the second half, ultimately losing 1-5 in the process.

Despite the result, the Blue Tigers will take heart from the shift they put in till the bitter end, and will hope for a better showing against Bangladesh, with reinforcements coming in in the form of defender Narender Gahlot, and attackers Gurkirat Singh and Aniket Jadhav.

As things currently stand, India are at the bottom of Group A, but will be looking to bounce back and stake their claim for a spot in the Round of 16 later on. The top two teams in each group will secure themselves a spot in the knockouts, and will be joined by four out of the five best second-placed teams.

The Blue Tigers have a superior head-to-head record against Bangladesh, having won 18, lost five, and drawn 12 matches. India’s match against Bangladesh will kick off at 1.30 pm IST, and will be telecast live on the Sony Sports Network, and streamed live on the SonyLiv platform.

Women begin their journey against Chinese Taipei

The Indian Women’s Team had camped in Bhubaneswar, Odisha, ahead of the Asian Games, and will be keen to mark the Nua Khai festival with a good result against the Chinese Taipei, who they play on Thursday, at the Wenzhou Sports Olympic Centre Stadium, in Wenzhou, China.

India are missing star goalkeeper Aditi Chauhan, who is recovering from a knee injury, but have an otherwise full-strength squad on their hands. They are set to be heavily reliant on their backbone, formed by centreback and capatain Ashalata Devi, playmaker-in-chief Indumathi Kathiresan, and mercurial striker Bala Devi.

While India’s record against the Chinese Taipei may not be one to write home about (India have lost six and won one), the last meeting between the two sides did produce a promising result, as the Blue Tigresses ran away 1-0 winners, courtesy a wonder strike by striker Renu from long range.

The Chinese Taipei, however, have been on hot form in recent times, having defeated the likes of Papua New Guinea (5-0), Lebanon (5-1), and Indonesia (4-0), while they have also held Paraguay to a 2-2 draw, before losing on penalties in the FIFA World Cup Qualifying Playoffs. The Blue Tigresses and the Blue Magpies cross swords at the Wenzhou Sports Olympic Centre Stadium at 5 pm IST.

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