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SAFF Championship: India will clash with Lebanon in the semi-finals, both teams clashed four times

Pankaj Prasad
India vs Lebanon
India vs Lebanon

India had defeated Lebanon in the final of the recently held Intercontinental Cup and won the trophy.

Four teams have reached the semi-finals in the SAFF Championship. Where Kuwait and India made it to the last four from Group-A, the team of Lebanon and Bangladesh reached the semi-finals from Group-B. Now in the last four match, the top-ranked team in Group-A will face the second-ranked team in Group-B and the top-ranked team in Group-B will face the other team in Group-A. That means Kuwait will face Bangladesh and Lebanon will face India. Both the semi-finals will be played on July 1. The Kuwait-Bangladesh match will start at 3 pm and the India-Lebanon match will start at 7.30 pm.

India and Lebanon both in excellent form

Lebanon beat Maldives 1-0 on Wednesday in their last match of the Group (B) stage. For the team, captain Hasan Matook scored an important goal on a free-kick in the 24th minute. The team won all their three matches in the group stage and finished on top. At the same time, the Indian team was successful in winning two out of three matches in the Group (A) stage. He defeated Pakistan 4-0 and Nepal 2-0. The last group match against Kuwait ended in a 1-1 draw. In such a situation, interesting competition can be seen between both the teams.

Head to head between the two teams

India had defeated Lebanon in the final of the recently held Intercontinental Cup and won the trophy. So far both the teams have clashed eight times. Out of this, India has won two and Lebanon has won three matches. At the same time, three matches have been drawn. However, this will be a knockout match, so there will be no scope for a draw. In case of a draw after 90 minutes, the match will go into extra time of 30 minutes. It will also be played in two halves. At the same time, if the score is equal even in extra time, the match will go to penalty shootout.

How many times both the teams clashed

The two teams faced each other for the first time in 1977 in the President's Cup. Then India defeated Lebanon 4-2. The two teams then met twice in 1993 in the FIFA World Cup qualifiers. One match ended in a 2-2 draw, while in the other match, Lebanon beat India 2-1. After this, in 2007 also there was a clash between these two teams in the FIFA World Cup qualifiers. In the match held on October 8, 2007, Lebanon defeated India 4-1. After this, the match played between the two teams on 30 October 2007 ended in a 2-2 draw.

On 19 August 2009, both the teams came face to face once in a friendly match. Then Lebanon defeated India 1-0. After this, both of them faced each other in the 2023 Intercontinental Cup. One match ended in a 0–0 draw, while India beat Lebanon 2–0 in the final. After 1977, Team India registered its first win over Lebanon. The Indian team would like to maintain this winning streak in the semi-finals of the SAFF Championship as well. Looking at the kind of game Team India has shown in the group stage so far, the road is not going to be easy for Lebanon.

India-Lebanon FIFA ranking

Talking about the FIFA ranking of both the teams, Lebanon occupies the 99th position while India's FIFA ranking is 101. Talking about the last five matches of both the teams, India has won three out of their last five matches, while two matches have been drawn. At the same time, Lebanon has won three of its last five matches. One match has been a draw, while he had to face defeat in one.

Will have to reduce the dependence on Chhetri in terms of goals

The Indian team did win 4-0 over Pakistan, but in the 2-0 win against Nepal, it did not have any goals during the first hour. Similarly, it was Chhetri who opened the scoring against Kuwait. In terms of goals, the team's dependence on 38-year-old striker Sunil Chhetri is very high. He has scored five of the team's total of seven goals so far. Team's midfielder Sahal Abdul Samad says that other players of the team, including him, will have to target more and more targets, so that the load on Chhetri can be reduced. In the semi-finals, apart from Chhetri, others will also have to shoulder the responsibility of scoring goals.