Category: International

India bow out of AFC U-23 Championships qualifiers

TASHKENT: The Indian U-23 National Team ended their AFC U-23 Championship qualifiers campaign with a 2-0 loss to Tajikistan in their second match of the group stage at the Pakhtakor stadium in Tashkent, Uzbekistan today (March 24, 2019).

Daler Yodgorov’s 30th minute strike and Solehov’s 85th minute goal proved to be the difference between the two sides as India succumbed to their second defeat of the qualifying campaign ending without a point out of a maximum six.

The opponents had mounted a barrage of attacks in the early minutes of the match, trying to unsettle the Indian defence but some astute goalkeeping by Dheeraj Singh kept them at bay. In the 10th minute, the custodian made a fine save to deny the opponents an early breakthrough.

India could have surged ahead into lead in the 12th minute but Sarthak Golui’s header off a Komal Thatal free-kick failed to find the net, leaving the Tajik goalkeeper to scramble to clear his lines; courtesy of an onrushing Anwar Ali in pursuit of the rebound.

After a nervy start, the Indian team found themselves some bright spots and in the 27th minute, Rahim Ali found Komal Thatal inside the box. With defenders closing in, Komal could only launch the ball over the woodwork in an attempt to give India the lead.

India’s attacking momentum was short-lived as Tajikistan took the lead in the 30th minute with Daler finding the back of the India net from inside the box.

Attempting to find the equalizer before half-time, Rahim Ali went on a run down the middle and found Anirudh Thapa, whose shot was blocked by the Tajik defence line.

The urgency for the equalizer for India kept them on their toes and soon after the second half re-started, India cajoled an opportunity in the 48th minute. Rahim Ali brought the ball down inside the box and passed it to an onrushing Abdul Sahal, who failed to hit the target from outside the box.

Restricting the opponents in the half for much of the second half, India had a chance in the 60th minute and once again it fell to Sarthak Golui, who this time headed wide from a Vinit Rai free-kick.

India tried to keep Tajikistan on the defence and score the equalizer but could not find the decisive goal. Tajikistan held on to their slender lead and committed bodies in defence. The opponents scored through Solehov in the 85th minute and saw out the match as the full-time scoreline read 2-0 in their favour. 

India lose to Uzbekistan in AFC U-23 Championship qualifiers opener

TASHKENT, UZBEKISTAN: India suffered a 0-3 loss at the hands of defending champions Uzbekistan in the AFC U-23 Championship Qualifiers in Tashkent, Uzbekistan on Friday, March 22. 

Uzbek captain Islomjon Kobilov put the home team in front via a first-half penalty, before second-halfsubstitute Bobir Abdixolikov netted twice in the last 10 minutes to take the game away from the Blue Tigers. 

India started creating chances early on, as Rahul KP was played through on the flank by Anwar Ali. The Keralite attacker put in a cross, but Daniel could not connect with it in time. 

However, Uzbekistan started pressing high up the pitch after the initial exchanges, and they got a good chance around the half-hour mark when Alijanov Ilkhomjon was played through inside the six-yard-box by Amonov Azizbek, but Vinit Rai stepped in with the crucial block. 

Uzbekistan laid the proverbial siege on the Indian third ahead of the half time break, but the Indian defence held on for dear life, with Anwar Ali making some brave interceptions deep inside the penalty area. 

Their efforts finally paid off in injury time of the first half, when Uzbekistan were awarded a penalty. Uzbek captain Islomjon Kobilov made no mistake, as he slotted it into the bottom corner to put the home side in the lead. 

That game wind in the Uzbek sails and the home side came out with more attacking intent in the second half. Chances were at a premium for India, and Daniel had another opportunity to score, when substitute Komal Thatal, who had come on for Rahul KP, crossed it towards him. However, Daniel could not get onto the end of the cross, and the chance went begging. 

India centreback Gaurav Bora dug out a couple of important interceptions in the second half, helping out goalkeeper Dheeraj Singh, who was caught off his line, but Bobir Abdixolikov eventually doubled the lead with a little over 10 minutes of regulation time left. 

Five minutes later, Abdixolikov made it 3-0 for the home side, ending Indian hopes of a comeback. KomalThatal lit up the eyes of the Indian fans with a jinking run from the left wing, as he cut inside and let one rip, but his shot thudded off the woodwork. 

India are set to play their final qualifier against Tajikistan on Sunday, March 24.

India rout higher ranked Puerto Rico 4-1 in International friendly

By Ujjal Sarkhel

Mumbai: Young Team India routed a higher ranked Puerto Rico 4-1 in an international friendly match played at Andheri Sports Complex in Mumbai on Saturday.

The Blue Tigers fell behind early to an Emanuel Sanchez (8th) strike but replied only eight minutes later through Narayan Das (16th) and then two quick goals from Sunil Chettri (24th) and Jeje Lalpekhlua (33rd) give them a two goal advantage before and Jackichand Singh (59th) put the final nail in the coffin.

Now if we talk about the match from first minute, Puerto Rico started the game with very well aggressive mode. They placed some good attack by using flanks putting the Indian defense under serious threat in the initial minutes.

The visitors broke the deadlock in the 8th minute from a spot kick. Jackichand fouled a Puerto Rico man inside the box which referee gave penalty to the visitors. Striker Sanchez did no mistake to score from the spot kick.

Having conceded, India, who started with Sunil and Jeje upfront, dominated majority of the proceedings looking for the equaliser. In the 17th minute, Bikash Jairu was brought down just on the edge of the box and Sunil shouldered the duty to taking the free-kick. His right footed effort hit the woodeork but left back Narayan scored with the follow up giving the rival custodian no chance.

The goal gave the Stephen Constantine-coached side much-needed confidence as they stormed ahead via Sunil. Andrea tripped down Sunil at the edge of the box which earned a free-kick for India and Sunil did no mistake to curl into the top left corner in the 24th minute.

After taking the lead India looked more dangerous as they placed a host of attacks in the Puerto Rico box and Jeje once again showed his goal scoring ability in the 33rd minute. Sunil after receiving a long ball from Pritam Kotal fed it to Jeje who headed home to make the scoreline steeper for the visitors.

The boys in the blue headed towards the dressing room with a handsome lead of 3-1.

India introduced Rowllin Borges and Halicharan Narzary at the expenses of Bikash Jairu and Pronay Halder at the begining of the second session.

Halicharan made a immediate impact and almost got an assist in the 47th minute, but his long ball was too heavy for Eugeneson Lyngdoh who was trying to cut in from the right flank.

Meanwhile, Puerto Rico went agonisingly close through substitute Ramos but the woodwork came in for India’s help.

Around the hour mark Jackichand Singh finally got his name on the scoresheet when he smashed the roof of the net. Jeje delivered a delightful cross from the left to Eugeneson who just flicked it for Jackichand and the winger slotted home.

In the remainder of the game, Puerto Rico did show some excellent moves in patches but they could not convert chances as India held on for a well-deserved 4-1 win.

Young Team India set to host a high-ranked Puerto Rico

By Ajay Majumder

MUMBAI: Indian  National Football team will host Puerto Rico in a international friendly match at the Andheri Sports Complex in Mumbai on Saturday.

This will be the first time since November 2011 when a non-Asian country visits India after Zambia, and also the first occasion in two years when India hosting a high-ranked opponent after Palestine in October 2014.

Recently, India have been on a good form, having defeated Laos 7-1 on aggregate in the 2019 Asian Cup qualifiers in June. Then the Blue Tigers went on to defeat Bhutan 3-0 in a unofficial game last month at Thimpu, Bhutan.

Indian coach Stephen Constantine, who has introduced 32 new faces in International Football since taking over in Januray 2015, will once again rely on a bunch of young side beside seniors like Sunil Chhetri, Jeje Lalpekhlua and Arnab Mondal.

“We are very motivated to play against a high-ranked opponent. If you want to go higher it’s important that you play against stronger sides. I would rather lose 4-0 to Iran than win 3-0 against a weaker Nation,” Constantine said.

Goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu will lead the Blue Tigers tomorrow against Puerto Rico.

On the other hand, Puerto Rico, who are placed 114 in the FIFA Rankings, came to India with almost a full-strength squad and the islanders are looking to use this game as an avenue to assess their squad ahead of the 2017 Caribbean Cup qualifiers against Antigua and Barbuda.

Led by Spanish coach Carlos García Cantarero, Puerto Rico lost 0-1 to Dominican Republic in their last fixture on August 30, came here without their all time top scorer Hector Ramos.

Along with Ramos two other strikers in Jorge Rivera and Joseph Marrero have also skipped the tour for dispute with the Puerto Rican Football Federation over daily allowance for expenses and the absence of three first-team strikers would definately weaken the Puerto Rico front-line.

However, that was not the end of Puerto Rico’s misery as the entire team had missed their to Mumbai from New York on Thursday and only reach here on this evening but their coach Carlos García Cantarero stays positive ahead of the clash and hopes for a good competitive match.

Speaking about the opponenets India coach Constantine said, “Puerto Rico were one of the best movers in the FIFA Rankings. They are a good side with many good Players. Yes, one may mention about their landing timing in Mumbai but you cannot take away their quality.”

The game at the Andheri Sports Complex kicks off at 8.00 pm on Saturday will be telecast live on Star Sports 2.