Sports

India seal third place after stalemate with Afghanistan

June 15, 2021
India played to a 1-1 draw with Afghanistan on Tuesday to finish third in Group E of the Asian Qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023. — Courtesy photo
India played to a 1-1 draw with Afghanistan on Tuesday to finish third in Group E of the Asian Qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023. — Courtesy photo

DOHA — India played to a 1-1 draw with Afghanistan on Tuesday to finish third in Group E of the Asian Qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023.

The result means India confirmed their place in the final round of the Asian Qualifiers for the AFC Asian Cup China 2023 with Afghanistan also going through.

India head coach Igor Stimac gave Ashique Kuruniyan the nod to start after the winger’s impressive display against Bangladesh, while Bipin Singh and Udanta Singh were on the bench.

The Blue Tigers quickly settled into the match and got their first look at goal in the third minute after Brandon Fernandes sent Manvir Singh through into the box but the forward’s shot was parried away by Afghanistan goalkeeper Ovays Azizi.

Afghanistan responded with an attempt of their own three minutes later as captain Farshad Noor saw his volleyed effort blocked by Chinglensana Singh.

India had another chance just before the quarter of an hour mark when midfielder Glan Martins threaded a clever ball to Sunil Chhetri, who struck well with his left foot but Azizi easily deflected the ball for a corner.

Afghanistan suffered a setback in the 29th minute when captain Noor had to be replaced by Adam Najem after picking up an injury as the score remained 0-0 going into the break.

Afghanistan started the second half well and were almost rewarded in the 57th minute when defender Masih Saighani lost his marker but fired his shot straight into the hands of India goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu.

Both teams continued to toil in front of goal and India squandered another golden opportunity in the 62nd minute after Fernandes’ free-kick into the area was cleared by Zohib Amiri.

India finally broke the deadlock in the 75th minute when Manvir and Ashique combined nicely before the latter sent a looping cross towards the far post, which a desperate Afghanistan goalkeeper Azizi ended up sending the ball into his own net.

However, Afghanistan clawed their way back into the tie in the 82nd minute when midfielder Noor Husin did well to lose his marker down the left flank before finding teenager Hossein Zamani, who curled his effort into the far post to beat Gurpreet Singh Sandhu. — Agencies


June 15, 2021
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