India take on Iran in their penultimate Group D match of the Russia 2018 Preliminary Joint Qualifiers Thursday and they will be expected to give their best shot possible. With nothing more to win or lose, Stephen Constantine's men will only play for pride.
India stand no chance of progressing to the next round of the World Cup qualifiers as they have won just once and lost as many as five group games in the competition. They are currently at the bottom of the table, however, two wins in a row (against Iran and Turkmenistan later) can see them finish second-last.
If the absence of Sunil Chhetri wasn't the only worry for Constantine, there was another disappointment in store for the British coach as the hosts didn't turn out to be that welcoming after the India national football team landed at the Imam Khomeini International Airport in Tehran Monday evening.
Constantine's army were scheduled to undergo training at the stadium for two days but they were allegedly "denied" training.
"When Iran came over to Bengaluru [last year], we allowed them to train at the match venue for two days expecting that you would receive the same treatment. When you extend courtesies you would always like to be repaid, no matter what," Constantine said via an AIFF press release.
"But to our surprise we are being denied to train at the match venue (the Azadi Stadium) for two days." he admitted. "It was understandable that we would also be training at the match venue for two days simply because we had allowed the Iranian national team to train at the venue for two days."
The last time the two teams met in the tournament, Sardar Azmoun, Andranik Teymourian and Mehdi Taremi remained the goalscorers for Iran as they overpowered India with a 3-0 scoreline at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru.
India vs Iran schedule:
Date - March 24, 2016.
Time - 8 p.m. IST
Venue - Azadi Stadium, Tehran.
TV listings - Channel 3 (Iran).