Minutes before the stipulated 90-minute time, Adil Ahmed Khan emerged as the saviour for Indian Football team as he scored an outstanding goal against Bangladesh in 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifier on Tuesday. Playing in front of a packed capacity crowd at the Saltlake Stadium in Kolkata, the Indian team gave their before settling in for a 1-1 draw in a hard-fought encounter versus an inspired Bangladesh side. Adil’s brilliant equaliser in the dying stages of the match helped the hosts to save the grace from what could be a hurtful defeat.
Led by the ever-so enigmatic Sunil Chhetri, India played good football but failed to convert those half-chances into goals as Bangladesh played strong on the defence. Ranked 104 in the world, India were the strong favourites to beat neighbours Bangladesh who are 83 rungs below them. Courtesy this draw, India are at the fourth spot in Group E with 2 points against their name.
At the end of the first half, India were behind after they conceded a goal near the end. Bangladesh’s Saad Uddin giving the tourists an all-important lead in their Group E encounter versus Blue Tigers.
Before the match, India appeared as the more confident after producing some strong performances in the tournament. The clash apart from being a World Cup Qualifier will also serve as the 2023 AFC Asian Cup qualifier. The home team goes into the tie on the back of a remarkable draw against Qatar, easily their best result of the century. Skipper Sunil had recovered and was back with the squad, while defensive mainstay Sandesh Jhingan has been ruled out, for close to six months, after suffering an ACL injury.
Adil Khan, however, ensured that India at least secure a point from the home match as he rose highest to nod home a Brandon Fernandes corner kick in the 88th minute. A defeat at home would have severely dented India’s hopes of advancing in the next round.
India had lost to Oman 1-2 in their opening match before holding Asian champions Qatar to a goalless draw in their previous match. They now have two points from three matches, while Bangladesh stay at the bottom with one point from three games.
Bangladesh were the more organised and penetrating side as they put up a spirited show against India who were backed by a full-capacity crowd at the Saltlake Stadium.
Inspirational captain Sunil Chhetri was not at his best as also goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu who kept at bay the marauding Qataris in the memorable drawn game in Doha.
Gurpreet misjudged the flight of the ball to let in Bangladesh’s goal to the stunning silence of the packed 65,000-plus crowd.
It was Rahul Bheke who conceded a freekick on the left and Bangladesh captain Jamal Bhuyan curled it into the far post where Gurpreet missed the flight completely and Saad Uddin finished it with a diving header.
Earlier in the first-half, India had their share of chances. One such chance was in the 18th minute when Bheke’s powerful header zoomed over the crosspiece. India had their first shot on target in the fifth minute when Manvir Singh floated in a long-ball with Ashique Kuruniyan leaving it for Chhetri but the Indian captain volleyed it straight to the Bangladeshi goalkeeper Ashraful Islam Rana.
Bangladesh also looked to penetrate early and came close in the 31st minute when Adil Khan made a mess of a back pass as Biplo Ahmed took the control of the ball but thankfully Anas Edathodika averted the danger.