AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers: India thrash Hong Kong 4-0 to finish as group leaders
Sunil Chhetri doubled India's lead before half-time. In the second-half, goals from Manvir Singh and Ishan Pandita sealed the deal for India guiding them an impressive 4-0 victory over the visitors.
Sunil Chhetri-led India thrashed Hong Kong football team 4-0 at the Salt Lake Stadium on Tuesday (June 14) thus finishing as the group leaders of AFC Asian Cup 2023 Qualifiers. Blue Tigers' Anwar Ali opened the scoring three minutes into the match and after that India dominated Hong Kong throughout the match by not giving them a moment of peace or space to breathe.
Notably, India had already qualified for the Asian Cup Finals after Palestine defeated the Philippines in a group B match in Ulaanbaatar.
The Blue Tigers raced to a 1-0 lead with the 21-year-old centreback Anwar scoring his maiden international goal four years after his career nearly ended on health grounds.
The 2017 Under-17 World Cup star, whose career had been put on hold after being diagnosed with a rare heart disease (Hypertrophic Myocardiopathy), scored from a short Ashique Kuruniyan corner with his right-footed strike into the top corner.
FULL-TIME! #BlueTigers seals another win by defeating Hong Kong by 4-0 and the GROUP D table with points!
IND HKG #INDHKG #ACQ2023 #BackTheBlue #BlueTigers #IndianFootball pic.twitter.com/u661usb3Ul — Indian Football Team (@IndianFootball) June 14, 2022
The versatile defender, playing alongside Sandesh Jhingan, not only made his presence felt in the backline but also made some fluid moves up front.
The talismanic Chhetri doubled the lead just before the break from a 30-yard freekick to bring up his fourth goal of the tournament.
Jeakson Singh floated in a brilliant freekick as the skipper controlled it brilliantly with a deft first touch before calmly slotting it home to notch his 84th international strike that saw him go level with Hungarian great Ferenc Puska in the chart for the all-time leading international scorers.
He also entered the top-five international goal-scorers' list. The Indian icon is just two goals behind Argentine superstar Lionel Messi among active players list led by Portuguese Cristiano Ronaldo (117).
Late into the second-half it was Brandon Fernandes who initiated the move from the right and played a quick 1-2 with Roshan Singh before Manvir found the target.
On song, India attacked on the counter and a cross from the right from Manvir was converted by Pandita.
More than eight hours before their face-off, both the teams confirmed the Asian Cup Finals berth, courtesy Palestine's 4-0 win over Philippines who were eliminated after finishing as the worst runners-up from the six groups.
Playing without any pressure, Stimac's side made two bold changes by bringing in Sahal Abdul Samad and Udanta Singh in the starting XI in place of Liston Colaco and Manvir.
With PTI inputs