The 2019 AFC Asian Cup Qualification came to an end. The sixth and the final round of game in Group-A has been played between Kyrgyzstan and India in Bishkek. The Kyrgyz Republic ends the group as the table toppers while India who were at the top of the table lost the game for obvious reasons slipping down to 2nd spot in the group.
We here have churned out few points from the game which were crucial in shaping the course of the tie:
● An early goal from Zemlyanukhin :
The thunder-strike came from the home side, Zemlyanukhin’s perfect volley gained them the lead om the 2nd minute. The visitors were not at all expecting this early goal soon after the start of the game from from the hosts. For the first fifteen minutes the ball was rotating only with the Kyrgyz players. Constantine’s men were able to control the game counte-rattack against the run of play. The tempo of the match pretty much got set in the initial exchanges.
● Balwant’s two goals ruled out for offside:
On the 19th minute when Jeje chipped the ball, it was in the air and it could have reached Balwant but Kyrgyz skipper Azamat stopped by touching it with his hand. It was a surprise that instead of a Red the referee had given him a yellow card and awarded a free kick to India. The free kick was taken by Rowlin Borges and his strike got rebounded. Balwant had kicked inside the net but it was ruled offside. And also on the 40th minute, Balwant had scored for the second time but it also ended in an offside. Although none can much argue on the decisions of the officials but the shoulders of the Indian players dropped after this.
● Second goal from Kyrgyzstan sealed the fate of the tie:
In the second half India made a change as Narayan Das was subbed off and Jerry came in. But Kyrgyz midfielders kept playing mercilessly by kicking the ball towards Gurpreet and the defenders and the midfielders of India could not resist their moves. Although Gurpreet stopped some shots but on the 72nd minute Kyrgyz striker Murazev scored a brilliant goal from inside the box to which the best goalie of South Asia had no answer to. The match pretty much got sealed by that strike as India did showing any signs of retaliation.
● India’s Revamp :
The match was in the hands of Kyrgyzstan when India scored a goal towards the end of the regulation time. At 88th minute the cross from Narzary had been met by Jeje and he scored through a header and opened India’s account. Jeje and Balwant almost gave their best but it was not enough to make them return with anything positive.
● Stephen Constantine on the receiving end and deservedly so:
India’s 13 Match unbeaten streak and 728 days unbeaten run came to an end with this loss at Kyrgyzstan. For this loss, the Head Coach Stephen Constantine has been heavily criticized. Narayan Das’ performance was not up to the level and he was guilty for the first goal of Kyrgyzstan earlier and in the middle of the first half Anas was forced to cover both the centre of defence and also the left flank for the lacklustre show of Narayan. Constantine has to change his mindset and had to give chance to the youngsters. There were lots of young talents who were available in India and who had shown their quality domestic tournaments. Instead of Narayan Das, it’s better to play with Jerry for full time. The example is only one out of many, although it’s upto the Brit what he will find better. Without star striker Chhetri and lack of playing experience in foreign country India could not shine in major tournaments. Before the start of the game Constantine said, “From now we are preparing for the Asian Cup to be held next year”. If the preparation goes in the same way then India will get eliminated in the group stage itself.
India is in Pot 3 with Kyrgyzstan and other teams. The draw of AFC Asian Cup 2019 will take place on 4th May after which the picture will become clearer.