A draw may not have been the result that everyone was looking for against Bangladesh. However, the Indian national team are thankful to the crowd at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Stadium in Kolkata turned up in numbers to get behind them.
India, who became the only Asian team to not concede a goal against AFC Asian Cup Champions Qatar in 2019 in their previous FIFA World Cup Qualifier, split the points yet again against Bangladesh at home on Tuesday, October 15 in Kolkata.
Captain Sunil Chhetri accepted that the team could not deliver on the night against Bangladesh, but he promised to give the fans more reason to rejoice in the future.
“We couldn’t deliver a performance to match the atmosphere at the Salt Lake last night, and the dressing room is very disappointed about it,” said the captain. “We couldn’t capitalise on the chances we got, but this is a process on the pitch and in the stands. You turned up, we’ll keep attempting to.”
For Adil Khan, who scored the late equaliser for India, though, it was a special moment as he masterfully lost her marker, leapt high and guided a Brandon Fernandes corner into the back of the net.
“I cannot explain the emotions that were coursing through my veins when I headed that in. My father went into a heart surgery about the same time that the match kicked off,” he said.
“On top of that, it was my first goal for India. It will forever be a special moment for me,” continued Adil. “I would like to dedicate this goal to my family – my father and my wife. I would also like to thank all the fans who were there, and made that moment even more special. Thank you all for turning up in numbers.”
However, Adil believes that getting three points was paramount in the Bangladesh game, and that the team now needs to figure out the areas that need improvement and work on them.
“But the more important thing is that we could not grab the three points. This is a time to sit back, introspect and mark out the areas where we can improve ahead of the rest of the games,” said Adil.
India’s young midfielder Anirudh Thapa, on the other hand, believes that it is matches like these, where one gets to see packed stadiums, that the players play the sport for.
“It was rather disappointing to finish with just one point in this match, as we created so many chances, but failed to take them in the end. However, I would like to thank all the fans that turned up in the stands in Kolkata,” he said.
“As a footballer, it is matches and atmosphere like this that we live for. We could not get the result that you all have been hoping for, but we will keep working hard to do better in the future,” Thapa rounded off.