FIFA WC Qualifiers: India Secure 3rd Spot With 1-1 Draw Against Afghanistan


Doha: India secured the third spot after a 1-1 draw against Afghanistan in their last match of Group E of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023, at the Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium in Doha, Qatar, on Tuesday.

India took the lead via a 75th-minute own goal courtesy of Afghanistan goalkeeper Ovays Azizi, but the Afghans pulled back their equaliser minutes later, through their teenage sensation Hossein Zamani.

A third-place finish in Group E means that India move directly to the third round of qualifiers for the AFC Asian Cup China 2023.

The Indian team got off to a flying start right from the kick-off as Manvir Singh soared up the right flank, made his way into the Afghanistan box but, his shot was parried out for a corner by Afghan goalkeeper Ovays Azizi.

Afghanistan also attempted to create their chances in the opening minutes as David Ahmed Najem found some space on the right and whipped in a few crosses, but India goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu was alert to the danger and saved it comfortably.

As India began to settle down in the second half, the Blue Tigers started to play the ball out of the back. A little under 10 minutes into the second half, one particular chance was created out of a string of passes that started all the way from the keeper.

At an hour mark, Gurpreet made a crucial save to keep the scores at 0-0. Saighani hooved a long ball to Popalzay, who chested it down and volleyed it from outside the area, but Gurpreet was up to the task, as he plucked the ball out of the air.

India’s perseverance finally paid off in the 75th minute, when Ashique and Manvir worked some space on the left flank, as the former had the time and space to send in a measured cross towards Liston inside the box. Afghan keeper Azizi fumbled the ball while collecting it, and turned it into his own net.

Afghanistan soon went on the attack, looking for the equaliser, and found it through their teenage sensation Hossein Zamani, who came on in the second half.

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