India and Afghanistan played out a cagey 1-1 draw at the Central Republican Stadium in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. The Blue Tigers started the better of the two sides but their dominance started to wane after the first quarter of the game.
Thereafter, Afghanistan grew into the encounter and established a foothold in the game. The Afghans’ increased control paid off in the final moments of the first half when Zelfagar Nazary finished off a flowing move from the edge of the box.
After the restart, India looked a lot more proactive as Sunil Chhetri and Udanta Singh went close. However, it was Seminlen Doungel who rose to the occasion with a well-placed header in second-half stoppage time.
Both sides frantically searched for a winner but their efforts didn’t bear fruit as India and Afghanistan had to settle for a draw.
Here is a look at the hits and flops from the game.
#5 Sahal Abdul Samad – Flop
The Kerala Blasters midfielder was handed a start against Afghanistan as Igor Stimac hoped to infuse his side with a bit of craft and guile in the final third. Unfortunately for India though, Sahal Abdul Samad failed to stamp his authority on the game, meaning that he wasn’t able to form a proper link between the midfield and the attack.
For long stretches of the first half, India controlled possession and often looked for a player to drag the opposition midfielders out of position to carve out openings. However, Sahal consistently failed to perform the aforementioned task, thereby ridding the Indians of any cutting edge.
Consequently, his inability to find space in between the lines prompted the Blue Tigers to ping the ball across their backline, a tactic Afghanistan were happy to defend against.
And, whenever Brandon Fernandes did pick out the Kerala Blasters midfielder, the latter’s touch let him down as he ran down blind alleys and eventually, gave the ball away.
Moreover, Sahal’s poor display forced Sunil Chhetri to drop deeper as India looked to prize out a breakthrough. Yet, that disabled them from having a central presence, in the process, making Afghanistan’s task easier.
Just after the hour mark, the youngster was hauled off in favour of Farukh Choudhary and India’s offensive pedigree on the night improved massively, thereby highlighting the ordinary display of Sahal.