India played out a frustrating goalless draw against Sri Lanka in the second game of their SAFF Championship campaign. Deemed favourites before the tournament kicked off, India have only 2 points from 2 games. The 7 times champions have clearly struggled to live up to the excitement.
Head Coach Igor Stimac made 3 changes to the side held by Bangladesh in the opener. Subhasish Bose moved away from the wing to displace Chinglensana. Mandar Rao Dessai filled Bose’s spot while Seriton Fernandes played right-back instead of Pritam Kotal. Upfront, Suresh Singh Wangjam, who came instead of Manvir Singh, played in a supporting role to Sunil Chettri.
An unprepared Bangladesh managed to pocket a point against India in the opener. Despite being reduced to 10 men before the hour mark, the young squad clawed their way back though a corner. The game against Sri Lanka should have ended differently and Igor Stimac can look out for a pink slip.
SAFF Championship : India 0-0 Sri Lanka
India started the game off with a lot off energy outclassing their opponents in every aspect. The changes were making the difference and the numbers clearly show that the Blue Tigers were out to rip out the Lion on the flag. The first big chance came when Mandar Rao’s cross narrowly missed Chettri’s head.
Liston Colaco could have given India lead when he smartly broke loose from his marker to meet Udanta Singh’s cross. He however mistimed his header as the ball hopelessly looped above the goal. Udanta once again weaved his way and send a ball in, this time to Seriton. The move came to a halt as soon as the offside flag rose.
As the 2nd half began, Igor Stimac replaced Wangjam with Yasir Mohammad. The impact was almost immediate as his free-kick found Chettri inside the box. His header would be India’s only shot on target which Sujan Perera tipped over the crossbar.
As the game progressed, Stimac replaced Thapa with Sahal Abdul Samad and Farukh Choudhary with Liston Colaco. Once again the impact was visible, without a goal though. With 10 minutes Manvir Singh came in for Mandar Rao to boost the attack. Sahal has the best chance with a minute of injury time left when he received a perfect pass from Farukh. His attemped chip was calmly stopped by a composed Perera.
India play their next game against Nepal on October 10th, 9:30 PM IST.
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