Points are shared as India played a 1-1 draw against Afghanistan in the 4th game of World Cup Qualification. This result puts the Blue Tigers in a very difficult situation. The chances of qualification looks highly unlikely for them. India are still winless in 4 matches.
Igor Stimac fielded a strong side as Sunil Chhetri, Udanta Singh, Brandon Fernandes all made it to the starting 11. The Blue Tigers needed to win badly but struggled to create clear-cut chances against a resilient Afghan defence. Poor defending at the other end ensured Afghanistan take the lead through Zelfy Nazary’s goal. Nazary arrived just on time from a square pass from David Najem to net it past Gurpreet and put his team ahead at the stroke of half-time.
Afghanistan took a deserved lead going into the HT break.
A goal made in Goa:
Igor Stimac made 2 quick second half substitutions. Farukh Chowdhury came in for Mandar Rao Desai. Manvir Singh replaced Sahal Samad shortly after. However, it was the 3rd substitute Seimeinlen Doungel who turned out to be the hero for the Blue Tigers in the end.
The visitors persistence bore fruit in injury time as substitute Seiminlen Doungel restored parity with a well-taken header off Brandon’s delivery from the corner.
Sunil Chhetri missed a host of chances as India’s qualification looks further in doubt. However, an improved second-half performance from the Stimac’s men meant that the spoils were shared in Tajikistan.
In their previous encounter at home to Bangladesh, it was Adil Khan who scored the stoppage time equaliser. This time they had to thank Doungel, who scored his first goal for the country.
India take on Oman on 19th November as Afghanistan face Qatar. With only 4 games to go, India definitely need a win to keep their qualification hopes alive, however little that might be.
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