A disappointing campaign was brought to a disappointing end as India rounded off their 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers with a 2-1 loss to Turkmenistan at Kochi. It was an insipid second half performance by the Blue Tigers after an encouraging first half, in which they led 1-0 thanks to a goal from Sandesh Jhingan’s header. Arslanmyrat Amanow and Serdarali Atayew scored for the Central Asian team as they showed commendable character to beat a side ranked 47 places below them in the FIFA Rankings.
Here is how the Indian players fared.
Gurpreet Singh Sandhu – 6
Gurpreet was at fault for the first goal that India conceded. The ex-East Bengal keeper should have caught the cross from the right wing. His failure to do that resulted in a gilt-edged opportunity which Amanow pounced on. He made one fantastic save, low down to his right in second-half injury time that helped India avoid further damage.
Pritam Kotal – 5
It was a disappointing game for the Mohun Bagan defender. He conceded a penalty that Turkmenistan missed in the first half, and overall, had a very shabby game. He was neither protecting Arnab Mondal on the right side of the defense nor was he offering any assistance going forward, to Udanta Singh.
Arnab Mondal - 5.5
Arnab is a pretty good defender, but his temperament leaves a lot to be desired. For a man as experienced as he is, some of the mistakes he committed in the second half were akin to sins. In the first half, he repelled whatever Turkmenistan threw at India, but wilted under relentless pressure in the second half.
Sandesh Jhingan – 6.5
It was a fabulous header from Jhingan to give India the lead in the 26th minute. Till the second goal for the Turkmens, it was a faultless performance from Jhingan. But for some inexplicable reason, he had a wild swipe at the ball 20 yards from his own goal and completely missed the ball, leading to Atayew ultimately slotting the ball past Gurpreet.
Augustine Fernandes – 5.5
Like Kotal on the other flank, Augustine didn’t offer anything substantial either in attack or defense. He was caught out by the pace of the Turkmen attackers time and again. Even though there was extra cushion on his flank with Narayan Das playing in front of him, India were left exposed on his flank a lot of times.
Rowllin Borges – 4
After strong displays in his recent outings for the National Team, there was much expected out of Borges, but it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that he was India’s worst player on the day. He made a lot of stray passes, and his overall decision making was hugely questionable.
Pronay Halder – 6
For large parts, it was a typical Pronay Halder performance, bustling with energy. But his lack of quality on the ball was very evident. He wasn’t helped by the fact that Borges was having such a poor game.
Udanta Singh – 5
It was a disappointing evening for the Bengaluru FC youngster. He showed a couple of smart touches, but couldn’t keep his composure at the critical moments.
Narayan Das – 6
He can be rather pleased with his efforts in this game. Offered substantial protection to Augustine defensively, and put in some very nice balls into the box. It was his free-kick that Jhingan headed into the net.
Cavin Lobo – 7.5
Lobo was India’s best player. He was brimming with quality whenever he got the ball. It was a pity that the other Indian attackers were barely on the same wavelength. That notwithstanding, Lobo needs to improve his off-the-ball play.
Jeje Lalpekhlua – 5
A very disappointing performance from India’s captain for this game. Given his recent form for Mohun Bagan, both in the I-League and the AFC Cup, Stephen Constantine would have expected a lot from Jeje. But he seemed completely off the boil. In his defense, he cut a lonely figure for large parts of the game.
Holicharan Narzary – 5.5
A couple of encouraging touches were all Narzary could muster in the 40 minutes that he was on the pitch.
Seityasen Singh – 6.5
He gave it his all. He was brimming with energy, and struck one fierce shot that was nicely saved by the Turkmenistan goalkeeper.
Mohammad Rafique – 5
He was brought on with barely 10 minutes to play, and had no positive influence in that time.