Kuala Lumpur: Qatar are the overwhelming favourites but that won't deter the rest of the Asian Qualifiers' Group E cast from targeting successful campaigns.
India face Oman on Thursday while Qatar, whose place in the FIFA World Cup 2022 is already sealed, will host Afghanistan with AFC Asian Cup China 2023 qualification also up for grabs in the Asian Qualifiers.
See also :
MD1 Preview - Group A: Home teams seek winning starts
MD1 Preview - Group B: Hopefuls seek early advantage
MD1 Preview - Group C: Cast set for tough campaigns
INDIA vs OMAN
India will host Oman in a meeting between two teams who were part of the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019.
While Oman advanced to what was their first ever appearance in the knockout stage of the Continental showpiece, India suffered heartbreak as they just missed out on the Round of 16 after having opened their campaign with a stunning win over Thailand.
Both teams now have new head coaches, with Igor Stimac in charge of India and Erwin Koeman leading Oman.
Croatian Stimac has been working overtime to get India to adapt to his brand of football and will be hopeful they are on track after having experimented with the Indian squad in the Thailand King's Cup and Intercontinental Cup at home.
The results may not have been pleasing but the target was the Asian Qualifiers and Stimac will be aiming for three points against Oman to kickstart India's campaign.
Koeman has enjoyed a smoother transition, as Oman have won four of the five matches they have played since the Dutchman took charge and his target for the West Asians will be to get points on the board ahead of a gruelling campaign.
INDIA vs OMAN Venue: Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium, Guwahati Kick-off: 1930 hours (UTC +5:30)
QATAR vs AFGHANISTAN
Qatar's aim will be to get the first phase of defending the AFC Asian Cup title they won emphatically in February completed by next June - which they will if they top Group E.
With their place in the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 sealed, the West Asians look more than capable of navigating past their opponents in Group E.
Afghanistan will be determined to not let that happen as they embark on a mission which they hope will see them sealing a place in the AFC Asian Cup China 2023.
Afghanistan have never made the AFC Asian Cup Finals and despite the awesome talent that Qatar have, the Central Asians will thrive on the challenge.
QATAR vs AFGHANISTAN Venue: Jasim bin Hamad Stadium, Doha Kick-off: 1930 hours (UTC +3)
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