Indian football team secured its best-ever finish in the AFC U-23 Asian Cup Qualifiers. They finished at the second spot on their group which consisted of Oman, UAE, and the Kyrgyz Republic. Top teams from each group will qualify directly for next year’s continental showpiece while the best four second-placed teams will scramble through.
UAE finished at the top of Group E while India finished behind them in the second spot. India secured their best-ever finish by defeating the Kyrgyz Republic in a penalty shoot-out after the match ended in a stalemate after normal time. With the match ending in a stalemate, both sides finished the group on four points apiece with the same goal difference (zero) and an equal number of goals scored in all the matches (2). In the penalty shootout, Dheeraj Singh started with a couple of spectacular saves while Rahul KP, Rohit Danu, Suresh, and Rahim Ali scored from the spot.
The Indian camp now waits with their fingers crossed. The conclusion of other groups will determine if they can qualify for their maiden AFC U-23 Asian Cup.
India coach Igor Stimac made only one change to the starting XI from the previous game, handing Amarjit Singh his first start in this campaign as he replaced Jeakson Singh in the middle of the park. The Indian team tried their best to break through the defence line of their opposition. Meanwhile, the Kyrgyz Republic resorted to counter-attacking football. As the match ended in a stalemate despite both teams’ hard work, the result was decided by a penalty shoot-out. Goalkeeper Dheeraj Singh’s heroics under the woodwork did wonders for India as the boys had their best-ever finish in the AFC U-23 Asian Cup Qualifiers to date.
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