On Wednesday, at the Olympic Stadium, India made heavy weather of their 3-2 win over lower-ranked Cambodia in a FIFA international football friendly. India will play with Myanmar on 28th March in the AFC Asian Cup qualifiers opener, and this game was billed as a dress rehearsal. The Indian football team broke an 11-year-old jinx of not winning a match away from home after winning this game. Playing in their first international friendly this year they were given a tough fight by the Cambodians. Currently, India’s rank is 132nd in the FIFA rankings, who are 41 places below the Cambodians. The last time, when the team captained by Shanmugam Venkatesh, India emerged victorious in an away international friendly was way back in 2006, eked out a goal win over Pakistan.
India scored through Sunil Chhetri at the 35th minute, Jeje Lalpekhlua at 49th and Sandesh Jhingan at 52nd while Cambodia scored through Khoun Laboravy (36th) and Chan Vathanaka (62nd). A spell of 3-minutes immediately after the interval settled the issue in the match, which witnessed international debuts for Edathodika and Milan Singh. India last played and won 4-1 a match against Puerto Rico in September. After that, the visitors took the time to dust the rustiness off their play after missing out on international football match for almost 6-months.
After some poor play, to begin with, India took the lead. Sunil Chhetri scored under fortuitous circumstances as the home goalkeeper Sereyroth completely missed Lyngdoh’s corner leaving his Bengaluru FC colleague with the easiest of jobs of tapping into an empty net. The defense of India was porous in the first session creating chances from counter attacks from Cambodians. And in the 2nd half, India started with a lot of venoms and was rewarded within 5 minutes. The player Lalpekhlua found the back of the net after Jackichand dribbled past home team players to set up the striker of Mohun Bagan whose strike hit the inside of the post and went in. Just one minute later, Mr. Robin Singh should have made another goal but he failed to pull the trigger in time after his former club teammate Lyngdoh tied him up from a brilliant counter attack. But Sandesh Jhingan’s introduction in the place of Mondal changed the total scenario and also gave thrust to the attack and ultimately at 52nd minute Jhingan Scored the third goal.
The victory of India did come as a welcome relief for the country who were playing their first match after mauling Puerto Rico in September last year. But as the side gear up for the crucial match in the AFC Cup UAE 2019 qualifier against Myanmar, Constantine will have to plug in the next few days, in a few areas.