Hangzhou: The Indian men’s football team overwhelmed Bangladesh 1-0 in its second Asian Games 2023 Group A match here on Thursday.
Sunil Chhetri (85’) scored the winning goal from the penalty spot, but the goal will not be tallied as international as Asian Games matches are considered as Under-23 fixtures and don’t have senior international status.
With the win, India registered their first victory in the ongoing Hangzhou Games 2023. Sunil Chhetri and Co. had lost their opening match against the host China 1-5 on Tuesday.
The victory put India in the third spot in Group A with three points from two matches. The top two teams along with four of the six best-placed third-place teams will qualify for the round of 16.
India coach Igor Stimac made three changes to the team that started against China. Dheeraj Singh replaced Gurmeet Singh under the bar while Rohit Danu and Chinglensana Singh came in for Rahim Ali and Sumit Rathi, respectively.
Under rainy conditions at the Xiaoshan Sports Centre Stadium, both India and Bangladesh started on an attacking note in search of an early goal. Ten minutes into the game, the Indian team had two early opportunities to take the lead but Sunil Chhetri failed to make them count.
The Bangladesh team pressed India high and attacked through the wings but the Indian defence, led by veteran centre-back Sandesh Jinghan, kept the opposition forwards in check. Bangladesh had the golden opportunity to take the lead in the 28th minute. Foysal Ahmed Fahim won the ball inside the box and dribbled past Indian defenders but his weak shot failed to test goalkeeper Dheeraj Singh.
India almost scored in the dying minutes of the first half when they had three attempts at the goal from close range but failed to put the ball in the net. It began with Bryce Miranda’s cross from the left which was half-heartedly cleared by a Bangladesh defender. The loose ball fell to Sunil Chettri, who fired it straight at the goalkeeper Mitul Marma. The clearance was intercepted by Rahul KP who headed the ball straight at the Bangladeshi custodian before Abdul Anjukandan hit the post. With both teams failing to score, the first half ended goalless.
The second half started with the Indian men’s football team going on the offensive right away. Bryce Miranda was in the thick of the action yet again as he cut in from the left and floated in a cross to Rahul KP, who failed to head it in. The clearance ricocheted to Rabeeh who shot the ball over the bar.
Twenty minutes into the second half, India had a glorious chance but Samuel Kynshi’s effort from a free-kick was parried onto the post by the Bangladeshi goalkeeper for a corner.
As the match progressed, the Indian team grew in confidence and attacked down the flanks. The strategy paid off when India were awarded a penalty after Bryce Miranda was tackled by Bangladeshi captain Rahmat Mia in the box, Olympics.com reported.
Captain Sunil Chhetri stepped up and drilled the ball to the right side of the Bangladeshi keeper to make it 1-0 for India.
The Bangladesh team went all out in an attempt to score the equaliser but the Indian defence held on to eke out a narrow win.
The Indian football team will play Myanmar next in their final group Asian Games 2023 match on Sunday.