World Cup Qualifier: Sunil Chhetri scores in 150th game but India stunned by Afghanistan : The Tribune India

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World Cup Qualifier: Sunil Chhetri scores in 150th game but India stunned by Afghanistan

World Cup Qualifier: Sunil Chhetri scores in 150th game but India stunned by Afghanistan

India conceded two goals in the second half to lose 1-2. PTI



PTI

Guwahati, March 26

Lower-ranked Afghanistan shocked India 2-1 as the home team suffered one of its most embarrassing defeats in recent years despite talisman Sunil Chhetri’s 94th international goal in his 150th match.

Former captain IM Vijayan felicitates Sunil Chhetri. PTI

In his landmark game, Chhetri did what was expected of him and found the back of the net from the spot in the 37th minute after Haroon Amiri handled the ball inside the box in India’s home leg match in the second round of the joint qualifiers for the 2026 World Cup and 2027 AFC Asian Cup.

94 Chhetri scored his 94th international goal and the first after a seven-match drought. He now holds the unique record of scoring at least one goal in his first, 25th, 50th, 75th, 100th, 125th and 150th matches

Attacking on the counter with three strikers up front, Afghanistan equalised as Rahmat Akbari restored parity in the 71st minute after he shot from outside the box.

Disaster struck when a charging Gurpreet Singh was shown a yellow card and Sharif Mukhammad converted the resultant penalty (88th minute) to give his team a 2-1 lead.

Right at the start of the match, Manvir Singh missed an easy chance but his shot off a rebound, after a Chhetri shot rattled the woodwork, flew over the net. Liston Colaco then came close to doubling India’s lead but failed to control the ball.

India and Afghanistan drew the first leg 0-0 in Saudi Arabia on March 22.

‘Can still qualify’

India coach Igor Stimac said his side can still progress to the third round of the qualifiers, putting up a brave front despite the embarrassing defeat. Ranked 158 in the world, Afghanistan shocked 117-ranked India.

“Of course, I think we can qualify and I told you before as well we are going to be a different team after a long camp. You can see that half of our players are not able to bring that intensity and I cannot change that in five days, I am sorry,” Stimac said.

Stimac said had he got longer time to prepare, the results would have been different. “I repeat myself. I hope you remember all these players were the

same in June-July and Afghanistan is not a different team than Kuwait and Lebanon that we had beaten and dominated. The difference is only in the intensity,” he said.

#Afghanistan #Football #Sunil Chhetri


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