The India U-23 national team played all over at a pace which flustered Qatar U-23 in the second half but eventually ended up going down by a solitary goal in their second match of the AFC U-23 Championship China 2018 Qualifiers in Doha on Friday (July 21).
Stunned and running out of ideas against the Indian domination in the second half, Qatar, with all their experience managed to hold on, forcing the match to slip out of India’s hands. This was their second victory in the Championship.
Much like the first match against Syria U-23, the Indians pressed hard right from the kick-off. Qatar did have more possession in the first half but were unable to open the Indian goalmouth, as the two Teams headed into the interval locked goalless.
Changing over, the Indians shook the hosts just two minutes into the second half when Nandha Kumar’s long-ranger left-footer missed the target by a whisker.
Davinder, who started for the first time in the tournament, curled in from the right flank in the 53rd minute but none could reach on time to make the best out of it.
Nevertheless, Qatar managed to surge into the lead. The ball popped out of Goalkeeper Vishal Kaith’s hands as he rushed out to intercept a long ball, allowing striker Almoez Ali to gleefully slot home.
Thereafter, it was India all over. Head Coach Stephen Constantine introduced the lanky Manvir Singh in place of Alen Doery. Singh made an impact with his physical presence and came closest to equalize but his left-footer off a Lallainzuala Changte cross hit the bar and bounced back.
Two minutes later, Indians came very close to scoring again but Central defender Sarthak Golui’s header was collected by the opponent goalkeeper.
Spurred, India went all out. Playmaker Anirudh Thapa curled a long free kick but Salam Ranjan Singh failed to connect it.
Daniel Lalhilmpuia was introduced in place of Hitesh Sharma but he couldn’t get in past the rival Goalkeeper in the added time.
India had their last chance in the 93rd minute but Thapa’s try from the top of the box sailed over.
Meanwhile, his excellency P Kumaran, Ambassador of India to Qatar was present at the Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium tonight to witness the boys‘ action against the host nation. India play Turkmenistan on July 23 in their last match of the Competition.