2021 SAFF Championship: Lackluster India Held to Goalless Draw by Sri Lanka
India have scored 1 goal in two games so far against Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
The men’s Indian football team produced yet another disappointing performance and were held to a goalless draw by 205th ranked Sri Lanka in their second SAFF Championships match in Maldives on Thursday.
The seven-time champions could not create enough chances and wasted the ones that came their way.
Despite having the major chunk of the possession, the 107th-ranked Indians were ineffective from the set-pieces and did do not much in open play either against opponents, who only have five countries ranked below them in a 210-team table.
Igor Stimac’s full-strength team is still searching for a win in two matches. They have drawn against 10-man Bangladesh 1-1 in their opening match on Monday, that has put pressure on Stimac.
Anything other than a win against current table toppers Nepal (6 points) on Sunday can make it difficult to qualify for the final for India. The top two teams from the round-robin league qualify for the final to be played on 16 October.
India made three changes from the previous match starting eleven with Seriton Fernandes and Mandar Rao Dessai replacing Chinglensana Singh and Pritam Kotal in the defence and Suresh Singh coming in for Manvir Singh upfront.
The best chance of the first half came in the 22nd minute but Liston Colaco’s free header from a nice cross from the right flank by Udanta Singh sailed over the bar.
India kept on pressing for a goal but failed to put any real pressure on the opposition defence in the remaining period of the first half.
The second half saw Stimac taking off Suresh and bringing in Mohd. Yasir.
In the 60th minute, Dessai flashed a low cross across the face of the Sri Lankan goal and Anirudh Thapa has only to connect to score, but he could not reach to the ball.
With Sri Lanka defending in their own half, the Indians pressed more men upfront for the elusive goal but at the same time their frustration also kept on increasing with passing minute.
Stimac was booked for arguing with the referee as frustration clearly writ large on the face of the Croatian coach.
India missed a golden opportunity to steal a winner two minutes before regulation time. An inswinging Yasir corner was flicked on at the near post by Chhetri and the ball found its way to Subhasish Bose at the far post, who missed it from close range.
(With PTI INputs)
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