India draw against Afghanistan, qualify for Asian Cup third round
India scored from an own goal by Afghanistan goalie as they ended the World Cup Qualifiers campaign with a 1-1 draw to book a berth in the next qualifying round of the Asian Cup in Doha. Afghanistan goalie Ovays Azizi handed India a 1-0 lead in the 75th minute but Hossein Zamani equalized in the 81st minute in a match marred by poor refereeing.
Referee Ali Reda failed to discipline the players
It was a fast-paced game with the Afghans playing a more physical game. The match was strewn with fouls and referee Ali Reda failed to discipline the players. Notably, in 2019, the first leg match in Dushanbe between both teams also went for a draw.
India finished third in Group E behind Qatar and Oman
Both sides were almost equal in ball possession and India had 10 shots on target as against seven from Afghanistan. But the Afghans committed 16 fouls against nine by the Indians. Three Afghan players were shown yellow cards against one of India. With seven points from eight matches, India finished third in Group E behind Qatar and Oman, and ahead of Afghanistan.
Here's how India's WC qualifying campaign rolled out
India under Igor Stimac ended the World Cup qualifying campaign with one win, four draws, and three losses. Besides the win against Bangladesh in the previous match, the first leg 0-0 draw against Qatar in Doha in 2019 was the highlight of the campaign.
Chhetri's left-footed shot was collected by Azizi in 10th minute
India dominated the early period with captain Sunil Chhetri having a go at the opposition goal in the 10th minute off a pass from Glan Martins but his left-footed shot from a difficult angle was collected by the Afghan goalie. In the later part of first half Afghans had a few shots on target but none gave any difficulties to Indian custodian Gurpreet Singh.
Two Indian players were substituted during the match
Five minutes before the breather, Ashique Kuruniyan was on the clear on the top left edge of the box but his low cross failed to reach Chhetri with an Afghan defender clearing it. Chhetri, who had scored twice against Bangladesh, could not repeat that performance and he was substituted in the 69th minute. Midfield livewire Brandon Fernandes was also replaced in the 62nd minute.
India took the lead in the 75th minute
The Afghans looked better early in the second session but India took the lead in the 75th minute. Kuruniyan sent a high cross from the left which Suresh Wangjam tried to reach for. Afghan goalie Azizi rose for what should have been an easy collection but the ball dropped down his hands and slipped in between his legs into the empty goal.