India qualify for AFC Asian Cup 2023; Sunil Chhetri equals Ferenc Puskás’ goal tally

June 15,2022 08:50 AM


Kolkata [India], June 15 (HornbillTV): For the first time in history, the Indian men’s football team book their place in back-to-back AFC Asian Cup Finals.

Kolkata [India], June 15 (HornbillTV): For the first time in history, the Indian men’s football team booked their place in back-to-back AFC Asian Cup Finals after Palestine defeated Philippines.

The Indian men’s football team had one last match to play in their group, but Philippines’ 4-0 lost against Palestine booked India’s place for AFC Asian Cup 2023 even before the kickoff between India and Hongkong at Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan Stadium in Kolkata.

The Blue Tigers have qualified for the AFC Asian Cups in 1964, 1984, 2011, 2019 and now 2023.

Despite having known that they have already qualified, the boys did not go easy against their opponent, and India’s head coach Igor Stimac decided to go all guns blazing with his team selection, making only two changes to the side that got a 2-1 victory over Afghanistan.

Anwar Ali scored the opening goal in front of 48,216 fans in the 2nd minute of the night after some terrific build-up play from the likes of Ashique Kuruniyan, Sahal Samad and Udanta Singh. They earned a corner, which pinged around the Hong Kong penalty box, only for Anwar to blast it home.

In added time after the first 45 minutes, Jeakson Singh flighted a ball to the right edge of the six-yard box, which India’s skipper Sunil Chhetri brought down from the sky with his right foot and slotted it past the keeper using his left. India was 2-0 up as the fans, though taking shelter from the rain, were delirious with joy. With that strike, Chhetri’s goal tally went up to 84, levelling Hungary’s Ferenc Puskás.

In the 85th minute, Manvir Singh found himself in the middle as the ball from Brandon Fernandes’ cross inched closer. He did not make a mistake, slotting it home past Hong Kong’s Yapp Hung Fai to give India their third goal of the night. He was again instrumental in the fourth goal as he rushed down the right to send in a pin-point pass at the feet of Ishan Pandita, who made no mistake.

With this victory, India clinched the top spot of Group D, with 9 points from three games.

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