The D-Day is here. This is the Indian senior national team's now-or-never moment to bring home a trophy for the first time after 2011. Also, a win at the very start of the year can work wonders for the months ahead.
India take on Afghanistan in the final of the SAFF Cup on Sunday, 3 January, at the Trivandrum International Stadium in Kerala. The match is a repeat of the 2013 SAFF Cup final. Back then, Afghanistan had overpowered the Blue Tigers in Nepal to take home the trophy.
However, with the home advantage, will this year turn out to be different for the Indian footballers? That remains to be seen once the final whistle is blown. On paper, Afghanistan look the favourites owing to their incredible run in the competition this time. They have averaged four goals a game so far.
Not only that, they also have as many as 15 players in their 20-man squad who ply their trade out of Afghanistan.
"Afghanistan are the favourites because they have 15 players who play mostly in Europe. There is a huge gap between Asian and European Players," India coach Stephen Constantine said at the pre-match press conference.
"In fact, after the match against Guam [in the Russia 2018 World Cup qualifier in 2015], almost all had raised eyebrows asking how we had lost to a country that has a population of 90,000 people. But what all didn't realise was it was a team consisting of US-based players.
"But we will be playing at home, and I hope fans cheer us and we can use it to our advantage," the British coach added.
Neither India nor Afghanistan have lost or drawn any game in the competition this year, and that makes today's match even more exciting.
"It's hard to predict in which area the match will be decided," Constantine said. "It will be decided on all parts of the field. It is going to be a very difficult game. They [Afghanistan] are a team who can score goals, and we need to be careful," he added.
Afghan coach Petar Segrt has meanwhile said the home team has enough chances to get a win today. "The Indian team is very strong, and I have the utmost respect for their coach, players and all the staff. We will not take them lightly," said the Croatia-born German coach.
"India will make it difficult for us. They have the players to do so and the crowd will be also cheering for them," he added.
Afghanistan's Khaibar Amani is the top scorer of the competition, with four goals, while Lallianzula, Sunil Chhetri, Jeje, and Robin Singh (out of the squad) have two goals each for India.
Where to watch live
Click here for India vs Afghanistan SAFF Cup final match report.
The kick off of the game between India and Afghanistan is scheduled for 6:30 pm IST on Sunday, 3 January, 2016.
The entire subcontinent can catch the game on Star Sports 4/HD 4 (except Afghanistan).
Viewers in Afghanistan can watch the game on Moby Q.
Live streaming for the entire subcontinent is available on the official SAFF Cup YouTube account.
Other TV listings: Television Maldives (Maldives), Doordarshan (India), BBS (Bhutan), Bangladesh TV (Bangladesh).