It’s football season. After a long slumber, the sleeping giants have woken up. From the U-17 players making the country pound to our senior boy’s unending winning streak, football in India is on rise. To add to the happy times, India has qualified for the AFC Asia cup 2019 to be held at the United Arab Emirates. Skipper Sunil Chhetri and boys ended their group qualifier at the top of the table and finished it in style yesterday at Sree Kanteerva stadium in Bengaluru, netting four goals against Macau.
It was a long wait indeed until India qualified for the prestigious event after a gap of 53 years. India had last qualified for the event in 1964 where they had finished as runners-up. After that, they were knocked out in the group stage in 1984 and 2011 when they qualified for winning the AFC Challenge Cup.
In what appeared to be a challenging match, Rowllin Borges opened the scoring for India with a fine volley in the 28th minute. Macau was not lagging behind and the equalizer came ten minutes from the first goal when Nicholas Tarrao score beat past the Indian goalkeeper. Chhetri restored the lead, with a strike in the 60th minute, and to make matters worse Macau conceded an own goal by defender Lam Seng in the 70th minute. India had by then already booked a seat for the AFC Cup and to add a cherry on the cake, teen sensation Jeje Lalpekhlua made it 4-0 during the extra time with a perfect pass from skipper Chhetri.
India aced Group A qualifying round with 12 points and are all set to play Myanmar on November 24th next month and go head to head with Kyrgyzstan on 27th March next year.Earlier they had beaten Myanmar 1-0, Kyrgyz Republic 1-0 and Macau 2-0.