AFC U-23 Championship Qualifiers: India vs Tajikistan – 5 talking points as young Blue Tigers crash out

India bow out of qualifiers
India bow out of qualifiers
Avik Roy

After losing their second successive group match, India are not going to Thailand next year to play the AFC U-23 Championship.

After losing to Uzbekistan in their first match, India needed to win against Tajikistan by more than three goals in order to have a chance to qualify. But they conceded a goal in each half to lose 0-2 at the Pakhtakor Central Stadium in Tashkent.

Yodgorov Daler opened the scoring at the half-hour mark to put pressure on the Indians. India tried their best to equalize in the first half but missed all the chances. They were kept quiet in the second half and Tajikistan scored their second through a fine left-footed volley from Solehov Sharafjon.

Let us look at the five talking points of the game:

#5 Missed chances cost India heavily

India must rue missed chances
India must rue missed chances

In a crucial game like this, even half-chances should be capitalised upon. Every coach instructs their players to utilise as many chances as they get. But India, even though they had more shots than their opponent, were terribly short on that front.

The first chance came as early as in the 13th minute. Lallianzuala Chhangte took a delightful free-kick which evaded the entire Tajikistan defence and was met by a strong header from Sarthak Golui. The Tajikistan keeper was alert and saved the initial attempt. The ball fell in between Sarthak and Anwar Ali who made a scramble in front of the goal mouth and by that time, the Tajikistan keeper found his feet and saved the attempt.

Komal Thatal, who has impressed with his stint at ATK, was given the nod ahead of Daniel Lalhlimpuia. He wasted another chance in the 27th minute. Nishu’s throw was cleared by the Tajik defence and the ball kindly fell to Thatal, who chested it down before unleashing a left-footed volley. The distance between him and goal was not very much and if Thatal used his brain more judiciously, it would have been the opening goal for India.

The Indian’s got another chance just before the half-time whistle but unfortunately, Chhangte was caught off-side. 

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Edited by Aaditya Narayan
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