February 22, 2018

Favourites India inches away from AFC Asian Cup qualification

12 October 2017, 12:05 | Casey Mitchell

India footballer Sunil Chhetri

India footballer Sunil Chhetri

This is India's fourth qualification after 1964, 1984 and 2011. It was the 3rd time Chhetri found the back of net in India's 4 game winning streaks in the qualifiers.

India will eye a win against Macau in order to virtually qualify for the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup 2019 in Bengaluru on Wednesday.

The path to the qualification to Asian Cup UAE 2019 became all the broader when in the 70th minute a Halicharan shot deflected off a defender and rolled over the head of Man Fai.

India stay top of the table in Group A, maintaining a ideal record of four wins from four matches, and with 12 points, only one of Kyrgyzstan and Myanmar - both of whom have four points from three matches - can overtake them on points in their qualification group. Both have four points each but Kyrgyzstan are ahead on goal difference. It was cat and mouse from then on but India's lack of finishing denied them more goals to showcase their superiority.

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India are the top placed side in Group A with nine points from three matches.

Amidst the successful hosting of the Federation Internationale de Football Association U-17 World Cup India 2017 where the Indian U-17 National team have won hearts of 1.3 billion people with their stupendous performances, the Senior Indian National team who were already on track for a qualification to the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 felt it best to settle matters on Wednesday (October 11, 2017) itself, that too with two more matches left.

Macau themselves are coming into this game from a morale-boosting win in a friendly at home against Laos on October 2, their first win in a competitive game of any kind since beating the same opposition during the AFC Solidarity Cup in November 2016.

The hosts dominated right from the start, with the Macau defenders struggling to keep up with the red hot pace of the Indian forwards. Sunil Chhetri and Jeje Lalpekhlua are the players most likely to lead the attacking line, though Constantine might be tempted to take one player out of the midfield and include Balwant Singh as a starter, considering how defensive Macau were in the away leg.

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Macau were punished again ten minutes later with Seng's deflection lobbing into his own net after he attempted to clear Narzary's cross.

In the 28th minute, Narayan Das created some space on the left flank and floated a ball in for Jeje, who then played in Borges.

It was the 55th worldwide goal for Chhetri.

First, Jeje played a smart pass to substitute Balwant Singh and the pacy striker ran past the defence and rolled the ball across the face of goal to Chhetri who made no mistake.

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