Asian Games 2023 Football Updated Points Table: Indian football team climbs to second spot in Group A
Despite the Indian men's football team's Asian Games 2023 campaign kicking off on a solemn note, the Sunil Chhetri-led outfit scripted a crucial 1-0 victory against neighboring rivals Bangladesh in the second round of the group-stage fixtures.
In the first encounter of the continental competition, the Blue Tigers went into the clash without any significant match practice yet managed to hold off China to a 1-1 draw in the first half of the opening-day clash. However, after the break, the lack of training sessions and fatigue soon became evident and the floodgates opened for the hosts to walk away with a 5-1 victory.
But Rahul KP's stunning solo effort and the resilience throughout the night were the positives Igor Stimac was eager to carry on into their next clash. Against Bangladesh in Round 2, the Blue Tigers still didn't look at their sharpest, however, a late penalty was enough to make the difference between the two sides.
In the 85th minute, Bryce Miranda, who had been India's liveliest attacking outlet throughout the night, was brought down by an opposition defender and the referee immediately pointed to the spot. Indian skipper Sunil Chhetri, with utmost composure, slotted home the winner from the spot, ensuring his team's hopes of making it through to the knockouts were still alive.
Three points helped India climb to second in Group A, with Myanmar subsequently suffering a 4-0 hammering at the hands of China. The Red Dragons are now through to the next stages. Both one confirmed spot and potentially another are still up for grabs.
With three points and a goal difference of -3, India are in second, while Myanmar have the exact same record and have been demoted to third in the standings based on the number of goals scored. If the Blue Tigers can ensure a victory or draw against the Chinthe, they will sail through to the knockouts.
Two teams from each group will advance to the Asian Games knockout rounds, along with the four best third-placed teams.
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Meanwhile, the Blue Tigresses kicked off their campaign with a 1-2 defeat against Chinese Taipei, a fixture where they led the 38th-ranked team at one stage. However, the Mulan scripted a heroic comeback late in the match and currently stand at the top of the Group B rankings with three points. India are third with zero points and Thailand, who are yet to play a match, stand second.
To keep their hopes of staying in the tournament alive, a win against Thailand might be crucial for Ashalata Devi and Co. The five group winners will qualify for the quarter-finals while the three best runner-ups from groups A, B, D, and E will make up the remaining three teams in the final eight.