India vs Bangladesh FIFA World Cup Qualifier: Adil Khan's late equaliser salvages point for Blue Tigers
India were held to a 1-1 draw by Bangladesh in their latest FIFA World Cup Qualifier in Kolkata on Tuesday. This was a setback for Igor Stimac’s team after their goalless draw away to Qatar in the last match. India was expected to get three points against their lowly neighbours in a crucial home match but could only salvage a solitary point.
On the other hand, Jamie Day’s Bangladesh impressed with a commendable performance to earn a point. India now has two points from from matches, while Bangladesh are bottom of the group with one point from the same number of matches.
India started with a 4-2-3-1 formation and had to withstand an early onslaught, as the visitors started on a strong note. Bangladesh’s winger Ibrahim was pushed inside the Indian penalty box by Rahul Bheke early on but the referee chose to ignore it. Ibrahim’s pace and agility troubled the Bengaluru FC man to some extent on the night.
Moreover, Indian defenders played too many long balls to their forwards and wingers in the first half of the match. They were also guilty of playing too many passes inside their own half. As a result, they could not trouble the Bangladeshi defence much in spite of having around 60% of the ball.
India’s midfield double pivot also could not make a difference as neither Anirudh Thapa nor Sahal Abdul Samad ventured too far forward with the ball at their feet. India’s right winger Udanta Singh started the match on a slow note but gradually grew in stature as the night progressed.
Left-winger Ashique Kuruniyan tried to dribble past the Bangladeshi defenders on a few occasions but struggled with his lack of ball-control. India’s talismanic captain Sunil Chhetri was a mere spectator in the opening 15 minutes of the match and started falling back into his own half to help India retain possession on multiple occassions.
Bangladesh scored against the run of play when Saad Uddin headed home from a free-kick after Indian goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu left his line and misjudged the flight of the ball. Bangladesh went into the break with a surprising yet deserved lead.
The home team looked a bit more spirited in the second half as Thapa and Samad tried to pull the strings up from inside their own half. However, Stimac chose not to replace either Ashique or Udanta on the wings.
In the end, Adil Khan’s header from a corner in the 89th minute salvaged a point for the home side. India still have a mathematical chance of qualifying from their group.
They will, however, need to be able to score more goals if they are to be at par with the leading Asian teams. Stimac must have already taken note of it and we should expect to see an improved performance from the Indians in the upcoming matches.