Though Indian Football Team’s head coach Stephen Constantine devised a better strategy in the match against New Zealand did not help. He made seven changes in his starting eleven but that did not lead to the desired result as India ultimately faced a defeat at the hands of its rival NZ team. It was final league match of the Intercontinental Cup football tournament in Mumbai.
Though India has faced the defeat, it is still one foot in the final which is to be played on June 10 since the team has six points from two earlier wins. The India team had trashed Chinese Taipei with 5-0 and Kenya by 3-0.
Earlier, in the match, the local team maintained its lead. Its captain Sunil Chhetri had rallied his team but New Zealand rallied through goals from Andre Earnest De Jong and Moses Dyer as the Indian counterpart looked shaky in the latter half of the match in front of a jam-packed stadia.
Chhetri was playing his 101st match today. The match was his 62nd international goal, as with the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic of Sweden and Ronaldo of Brazil.
Tomorrow, if Kenya emerges victorious over Chinese Taipei, it will be a difficult calculation to decide who will be there in the final.
In that circumstances, all the three top teams, i.e. India, Kenya and Chinese Taipei, will be considered over their six points each. Then, head-to-head results could be considered, considering the goal difference too.
Under this strategy, India has a goal difference of plus 7, whereas due to plus 1 of New Zealand, it stands a big chance to make it to the final.
So, New Zealand which is overall a top team and knows how to keep defence under intense pressure stands better chances. Even then, it failed to gauge the Indian net and both teams went to the breather without scoring any goal. In later half, Indian captain Chhetri managed to score in the most unusual way giving his side a lead to the country.
In another moment, New Zealand custodian Woud prompted him forward but his poor clearance hit Chhetri’s foot which converted into a goal. Nevertheless, Indian team ‘s happiness and hopes were shattered soon.
Its important player Sarpreet Singh managed to pass the ball through to De Jong, who gave a fine touch, sending that ball into the right corner of the net and thus converted into a goal.
After the handsome wins in the initial two matches of the series, the Indian coach has made up as many as seven changes in his starting line-up though he made five substitutions later on.
Under the new arrangement, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu has made way for Amrinder Singh as a goalkeeper. The New Zealand team too showed its nice line of action and Sarpreet Singh drooped it from a high but Amrinder parried it away. The second chance for them was in the 13th minute when Justin Gulley could cross the ball at an unusual angle.
The moment for New Zealand team came in the first half in the 35th minute when Ingham floated a corner, headed by Myer Bevan, but Amrinder managed to keep it at a distance.
Just before the halftime came for better chances for India. Chhetri had made his way into the middle to give the ball to fellow player Ashique, but it just did not help the team.