The Indian national team has secured its spot in Round 2 of the 2018 FIFA World Cup and 2019 AFC Asian Cup Preliminary Joint Qualification with a 0-0 draw (2-0 win on aggregate) against Nepal today.
India had won the first leg 2-0 last week and the new-look national team was well aware that the encounter is far from over in front of approx. 10,000 fans. Sunil Chhetri and Robin Singh had attempts off target within the first five minutes.
But Nepal settled quickly into the match and put some pressure on the Indian team. Nepal looked the better side in the first 45 minutes but India defended well to keep a clean sheet at half-time.
Robin Singh found the back of the net in the 64th minute, but the goal was disallowed by the referee as the India striker handled the ball.
The home side increased the pressure on the Indian team and it looked like just a matter of time they open the score sheet.
But the Indian team managed to get away with a 0-0 draw. India advances to Round 2 of the qualifiers with a 2-0 win on aggregate.
Please scroll down for the detailed AIFF Match Report.
2018 FIFA World Cup & 2019 AFC Asian Cup Preliminary Joint Qualification Round 1 | Second Leg
at Dashrath Rangasala Stadium, Kathmandu, Nepal
NEPAL 0-0 INDIA
16 Kiran Chemjong – 19 Sagar Thapa [C], 13 Sandip Rai, 12 Bikram Lama, 2 Rabin Shrestha – 17 Bhola Silwal (67′ 22 Anjan Bista), 7 Bimal Gharti Magar, 6 Rohit Chand, 3 Biraj Maharjan – 21 Bharat Khawas (84′ 11 Jumanu Rai), 9 Santosh Sahukhala (57′ 10 Anil Gurung)
1 Ritesh Thapa, 20 Bikesh Kuthu; 4 Dinesh Rajbanshi, 5 Ananta Tamang, 8 Bishal Rai B, 14 Heman Gurung, 18 Ranjit Dhimal, 23 Jagjeet Shrestha
1 Subrata Pal [C] – 13 Pritam Kotal, 17 Sandesh Jhingan, 4 Arnab Mondal, 36 Saumik Dey – 10 Francis Fernandes (73′ 45 Jackichand Singh), 6 Lenny Rodrigues (46′ 32 Cavin Lobo), 27 Eugeneson Lyngdoh (87′ 47 Dhanapal Ganesh), 20 Lalrindika Ralte – 11 Sunil Chhetri, 9 Robin Singh
25 Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, 43 Arindam Bhattacharya; 12 Alwyn George, 14 Aiborlang Khongjee, 21 Keegan Pereira, 29 Jeje Lalpekhlua, 39 Prabir Das, 46 Holicharan Narzary, 48 Augstine Fernandes
Khamis Al Marri (Qatar)
Abu Bakar Al Amir (Oman), Abdullah Al Jardani (Oman)
Mahmood Salim Said Al Majarafi (Oman)
Mohammad Kasraei (Iran)
20′ Eugeneson Lyngdoh (India)
52′ Cavin Lobo (India)
56′ Robin Singh (India)
71′ Bharat Khawas (Nepal)
AIFF Match Report
The purpose has been served. India are through to the second round of the 2018 World Cup Qualifiers after their away match against Nepal at Katmandu’s Dasrath Stadium ended goalless on Tuesday (March 17). India had recorded a facile 2-0 win in their home-match in Guwahati in the World Cup Qualifiers Preliminary Joint Qualification Round 1 to qualify on a 2-0 aggregate.
The intent was not to concede and it was an archetypal display of approaching an away match. Enjoying a two-goal cushion, India preferred to play safe, slow down proceedings, and at the end it paid off.
Qualification to the next round was achieved and in addition, the two clean sheets in two consecutive games, one home and another, away, came as a bonus.
As the match progressed even as Nepal dominated, they were not able to break free and that added to their frustration. They did earn a series of free-kicks in the first half and even hit the post late in the second, but the back four and the last line of defence was there to absorb almost everything.
Add to that the work rate of the midfielders and the top two who constantly pressed not allowing Nepal to settle down and have it easy, mattered.
National Coach Stephen Constantine said it was nice to leave” happy.”
“It is nice to leave with a happy result. Result always matters and we achieved what we intended.”
“We came here to win but they put us under pressure. They gave everything they had and that speaks of the character of the Nepali people,” he maintained at the Official post-match Media Interaction.
However, Constantine did make a mention of the pitch which wasn’t “up to the mark.”
“This is not an excuse but the pitch outside is not suitable for Football. You can’t play good Football on such a pitch and we were not able to play it either. The pitch on which we played in Guwahati was of very high quality,” he further stated.
“We have to accept that didn’t play our best game and we need to do better. We’re trying to build a good Team for the future and I promise that we will.”
Meanwhile, Midfielder Dhanpal Ganesh became the eighth Player to debut for Senior Indian Team in the two matches played under Stephen Constantine.
India had their chances though. The introduction of Cavin Lobo in place of Lenny Rodrigues in the 46th minute helped India to regain composure. In the 60th minute, Lalrindika Ralte’s corner was headed out for a corner and off the resultant corner, Nepal recovered fast to counter attack.
Sunil’s prowess was on display in the 68th minute. He dribbled past three in the rival box but his placement missed by a whisker with rival Goalkeeper Limbu Kiran beaten.
Robin also had a goal disallowed in the second half but it eventually it didn’t matter.