India has qualified for the 2019 AFC Asian Cup in style by scoring a 4-1 win over Macau in a qualifying round match in Bengaluru yesterday, to make their fourth appearance in the continental event.
The team played against Macau at the Kanteerava Stadium on October 11. They made the cut with two matches still to go in the qualifying round.
India competed in the tournament for the first time in 1964, when they finished runners-up. Then they crashed out in the group stage in 1984 and 2011.
Earned our right to battle against Asia’s best and what better place to do it than at the Fortress. Happy,proud,relieved and more. pic.twitter.com/a4DkDJCCNK
— Sunil Chhetri (@chetrisunil11) October 11, 2017
Rowllin Borges opened the scoring with a fine volley in the 28th minute, skipper Sunil Chhetri restored the lead, after the hosts conceded one, with a strike in the 60th minute, while Macau conceded an own goal through defender Lam Seng in the 70th minute to dig their own grave at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium.
The fourth goal was scored by Jeje Lalpekhlua (90+2) after being assisted by Chhetri.
For Macau, Nicholas Tarrao scored in the 37th minute — their first goal of the qualifying campaign.
India topped Group A qualifying round with 12 points from four matches. They play Myanmar on November 24 and Kyrgyzstan on March 27 next year.
In the 2011 edition that was held in Doha, India lost all their group matches to Australia, South Korea and Bahrain.
Borges gave India the lead, but the Indian celebrations did not last long as in the 37th minute, Torrão managed to beat goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu.
Chettri knocked in the second goal as India played in the 4-4-2 formation with Balwant Singh and Jeje up front.
Holicharan Narzary had moved on the right wing, while Chhetri played on the left.
For his goal, Borges fooled the Macanese goalkeeper after he received a pass from Jeje, who had the presence of mind to spot him. Before Jeje could set it up, Narayan Das whipped in a low cross on the left.
Earlier they had beaten Myanmar 1-0, Kyrgyz Republic 1-0 and Macau 2-0. They are yet to concede a goal in the qualifiers.
(Story filed by Shruti Nair)