India 1-0 Kyrgyz Republic, Player Ratings: Sunil Chhetri the star for India in eighth straight win
India maintained their perfect record in the third round of AFC Asian Cup 2019 qualification by getting the better of the Kyrgyz Republic in a closely-fought contest in Bengaluru.
Blue Tigers captain Sunil Chhetri scored the winner that started with a brilliant individual run from the playmaker before Jeje provided a clipped assist for India’s all-time record goalscorer to fire home with a first-time effort. It was far from a convincing performance from Stephen Constantine’s men, but the 1-0 result means India have now kept a clean sheet for the third consecutive match.
Here is a look at how the Indian players fared today and their ratings out of 10.
Gurpreet Singh Sandhu – 8/10
The Stabaek shot-stopper endured plenty of nervy moments during the game but held his own enough to see through another game with a clean sheet. It was the 25-year-old’s third straight clean sheet after shut-outs against Myanmar and Nepal which will do his confidence a world of good. An early mistake apart, Gurpreet kept his composure throughout the game as the Kyrgyz Republic peppered his goal from all kinds of distance.
Narayan Das – 7/10
The left-back had a torrid time against Viktor Maier but managed to stick tight to the left-sided centre-back Anas as the game progressed. With Bikash Jairu coming on in the second half, Das had more protection on his side, but he offered very little going forward throughout the ninety minutes. A more accomplished left-back would help matters for this Indian side, but Das is in the team for a reason as he played a vital role in his team’s clean sheet today.
Sandesh Jhingan – 8/10
The Bengaluru FC centre-half looked in his elements today as the Kyrgyz Republic poured forward in attack throughout the game without much success. Jhingan, alongside central defensive partner Anas Edathodika, somehow managed to keep the scoreline at 0-0 when Israilov Akhlidin's shot was cleared off the goal line in the 61st minute. That was the save of the match and Chhetri soon handed India the advantage eight minutes later.
Anas Edathodika - 8/10
The Mohun Bagan centre-back has forged a good understanding with Jhingan at the heart of the Indian defence and at times looked impenetrable to the Kyrgyz forwards. Combining speed of thought with inch-perfect anticipation, Anas was one of the key reasons why India didn't concede despite allowing the Kyrgyz Republic a number of shots. His goal line clearance at the hour-mark was the highlight of the day, and he clearly deserves his rating.
Pritam Kotal – 8/10
The reliable Kotal didn’t try anything fancy apart from an attempt from distance and played his part in keeping the Indian rearguard locked right from the first whistle. Kotal barely ventured forward, but against the more attack-minded Kyrgyz outfit, he handled his defensive responsibilities well. A clean sheet is a collective achievement for the entire Indian defence, and Kotal was a vital cog in it today.
Rowllin Borges – 5/10
It was a difficult evening for the East Bengal midfielder who started the game sporting a bandage on his forehead. The holding midfielder played through the pain for about an hour before being taken off for Mohammed Rafique. Borges looked off the pace throughout and his heavy touches didn’t help India turn possession into meaningful attacks in the first half. It was his substitution that changed things for India and temporarily shifted the momentum of the game in the hosts’ favour.
Eugeneson Lyngdoh – 6/10
It was a surprise that Lyngdoh lasted the full ninety minutes since he was barely visible on the pitch. Perhaps, Borges’ substitution helped, but the creative fulcrum of this Indian team will need to play a more prominent part in the scheme of things to have any chance of a regular call-up. On today’s evidence, Lyngdoh is far from his best at the moment but fortunately, India didn’t have to pay for it.
Jackichand Singh – 7/10
The tricky winger was the sole bright spark for India in a first half dominated by the Kyrgyz Republic. The diminutive Jacki let plenty of promising situations pass in the opening period owing to an extra touch or trying too hard in one-on-one situations. He was later substituted for Jairu in the second half as Constantine sought better defensive cover, but a bit more fine tuning to his end product will do Jacki and Indian football the world of good.
Holicharan Narzary – 7/10
The Assamese winger worked hard throughout the ninety minutes but he struggled to carry out his primary responsibilities in attack. Apart from one shot from an acute angle in the first half, Narzary wasn’t an attacking force by any means, but his defensive work rate towards the end of the game deserves appreciation. Narzary’s selfless attitude to help out the struggling Das in the second half was a sight worth beholding, but India will need more from the winger at the other end of the pitch in the future.
Sunil Chhetri – 9/10
Man of the Match Chhetri was the undoubted star of the game, not only because of the goal he scored but also for creating opportunities to stretch India’s lead in the game’s dying stages. Chhetri himself missed a sitter in stoppage time apart from setting Robin Singh up with a defence-splitting pass, but the standout moment of the match belonged to the man from Bengaluru FC. His clinching goal had everything: finesse, skill, trickery, pace and power. It is a shame that Chhetri will not be around for much longer.
Jeje Lalpekhlua – 8/10
The Mohun Bagan frontman’s indefatigable nature ensured India didn’t completely go into their defensive shell in the first half as his hold-up play provided his team-mates with a platform to move forward and an outlet to release pressure. Jeje missed a couple of chances from difficult openings and couldn’t add to his goal against Nepal last week, but his was a performance that fully deserves a four-star rating. He went off to a standing ovation from the Kanteerava Stadium faithful as Robin replaced him for the game’s final ten minutes.
Mohammed Rafique – 6/10
Bikash Jairu – 6/10
Robin Singh – 5/10