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India vs Afghanistan: A Look Back at Memorable Clashes

India will face Afghanistan twice in the FIFA World Cup 2026 & AFC Asian Cup 2027 Joint Qualifiers. They have faced each other 11 times. Relive their past encounters, from India's dominant 1951 win to thrilling last-minute victories.

Moinak Banerjee
Last updated: 20.03.2024
Memorable Clashes between India vs Afghanistan


  • India faces Afghanistan twice in FIFA World Cup 2026 & AFC Asian Cup 2027 Joint Qualifiers.

  • Crucial games for India to secure second spot in the group.

  • Historical matches highlight India's dominance, with Afghanistan winning only once.

  • India leads the head-to-head record with 7 wins, 3 draws, and 1 loss.

India will face Afghanistan twice in the next set of games in the FIFA World Cup 2026 & AFC Asian Cup 2027 Joint Qualifiers. A trip to Saudi Arabia on 22nd March will be followed by the game back home in Guwahati on 26th. The games will be crucial for the Blue Tigers in their hunt to clinch the second spot in their group, ahead of Kuwait, to qualify for the third round of the qualifiers. 

This fixture has been won by India predominantly with the first four victories coming without conceding a single goal. However, they had to work hard  in the last few meetings to get the wins in this meeting with thrilling endings. We look back at some of the memorable clashes played between the two sides over the years.     

India 3-0 Afghanistan (1951 Asian Games Semi-final)

Indian men’s team’s first-ever trophy came as the Gold medal in the 1951 Asian Games. Hosted by India in New Delhi, the side which started the ‘golden era of Indian football’ led by the legendary coach Syed Abdul Rahim and captain Sailen Manna dominated the tournament, winning it with no goals conceded. The manner of the triumph has not been repeated in Indian football history again. India met Afghanistan for the first time in the semi-final of that competition, winning 3-0 with Pansanttom Venkatesh, Sahu Mewalal and Santosh Nandy getting on the scoresheet. Afghanistan was also down to nine men in the match and also lost the third-place to Japan. Meanwhile, the Blue Tigers beat Iran 1-0 in the final.

India 1-0 Afghanistan (2008 Challenge Cup)

The second competitive meeting against Afghanistan came at the turn of the century. It was the semi-final stage again and once more on Indian soil. The competition was the 2008 AFC Challenge Cup which was part of the 2011 AFC Asian Cup qualification process with the winner getting the group stage berth. It was contested by eight teams. India faced the Afghans in the first match of the Challenge Cup group stage which was a tight contest. The hosts ultimately found a way to break the deadlock in the stoppage time with Climax Lawrence’s goal deciding the match at Hyderabad. The Blue Tigers went on to lift the trophy by beating Tajikistan 4-1 in the final and qualifying for the third Asian Cup, the first since 1984.   

Afghanistan 2-0 India (2013 SAFF Championship Final)

While this fixture has largely been one-sided, Afghanistan did claim their only win over India to clinch their first SAFF Championship title in 2013. The Blue Tigers thrashed them 4-0 in the final of the previous edition but they took the revenge two years later in the same competition. Both sides entered the knockouts by finishing runners-up in their group. However, Afghanistan finished the competition unbeaten taking the lead through Mustafa Azadzoy as soon as the ninth minute in the final. India failed to mount a comeback with Sandjar Ahmadi confirming the victory in the 62nd minute.                

India 2-1 Afghanistan (2016 SAFF Championship Final)

Sunil Chhetri after scoring the winner in the 2016 SAFF Championship final
Sunil Chhetri after scoring the winner in the 2016 SAFF Championship final

India and Afghanistan faced each other in the SAFF Championship final for the third consecutive time. It was a period of sheer domination between the two sides in the competition. Like the previous edition, Afghanistan entered the final without losing a match but this time the Blue Tigers made sure not to repeat the same mistake. Stephen Constantine’s side kept their nerves even after going down in the 70th minute from a Zubayr Amiri’s strike despite having the superiority in the game. Two minutes later Jeje Lalpekhlua equalized and the score remained the same in 90 minutes. In extra time, talisman Sunil Chhetri made the difference by scoring a 101st-minute winner to give India their seventh SAFF Championship crown with a dramatic conclusion.

India 2-1 Afghanistan (AFC Asian Cup 2023 Qualifiers)

The Asian Cup 2023 played in January 2024 might not have gone in the direction India would have wanted but the qualifiers for the tournament in 2022 were certainly entertaining. Afghanistan was the opposition in the second match which is the recent meeting with them before the FIFA Qualifiers in March this year. The match was a dramatic one in the rain-soaked Salt Lake Stadium with all the goals coming in the last five minutes plus additional time. Sunil Chhetri curled in an outstanding free-kick in the 86th minute to break the deadlock of the match which India controlled but failed to convert the chances although the ‘Lions of Khorasan’ equalised soon after from a corner with Amiri once again scoring in this fixture. However, India maintained their spirit leading Sahal Samad’s winner in the stoppage time after a fascinating passing play to seal their road to Qatar.

India vs Afghanistan Head-to-head

Played - 11

India won - 7

Drawn - 3

Afghanistan - 1 

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