Amongst hear warming chants of Vande Mataram, the Indian team huffed and puffed to a hard fought 1-0 win against Kyrgyzstan at the Sri Kanteevera stadium in Bengaluru, earning 3 points for his country in a crunch, crunch Asian qualifier.
Stepehen Constantine has emphasised on the fact that the top 100 ranking doesn’t mean much to the team, as it’s main goal is qualifying on a regular basis for the AFC Asian Cup. And tonight’s win is a giant, giant step in that direction.
The first half was dominated by Kyrgyzstan as they pegged back the Indian defence and kept putting the pressure on the Indian goal, but Gurpreet Singh Sandhu’s heroics in goal meant that India went into the break still level on scores with the visitors. Sandesh Jhingan even pulled off a goal line clearance to help India stay in the game.
The second half started with a sea of attacks for the visitors with India continuing to absorb the pressure. Jeje and Sunil were putting in the hard yards up top, and were just waiting for that one stray opportunity to hit the visitors on the counter attack. And when it arrived, Chhetri took it with both hands.
Jeje dinked a ball over the Kyrgyzstan defence and Chhetri pulled off an immaculate half volley shot to slot the ball into the goal, giving the Indians a hard fought lead in the game. Robin Sharma was then brought on, who was put through on goal by Chhetri but couldn’t keep his effort down. Chhetri too missed in the dying moments of the game, and a last gasp save from Gurpreet Singh Sandhu meant that India secured the 3 points here in Bengaluru.
India now top the qualifying group with Myanmar in second spot.