India conceded a late goal to lose 1-2 against hosts China in the AFC U23 Asian Cup Qualifiers here on Saturday.
No Indian player managed to register his name on the score sheet as China’s Hu Hetao scored an own goal.
Tao Qianglong and Naibijiang Mohemati were the goal scorers of the match.
Both teams went back and forth with their series of attacks initially into the game, but the deadlock refused to be broken, as it remained goalless at half-time.
Following the switch of ends, the Chinese elevated their assertiveness, making Indian goalkeeper Prabhsukhan Singh Gill do some hard work and come up with some saves.
However, India managed to level the score in the 92nd minute thanks to an own goal by China. Narender Gehlot took a smart low drive from a melee and the ball hit China’s Hetao before rolling into the net.
Just when it seemed the match was heading for a draw, Mohemaiti struck the winning goal in the 96th minute.
This defeat was particularly significant after India’s opening match was cancelled due to The Maldives’ last-minute withdrawal from the tournament.
As a result, Group G features only three teams, India, UAE, and hosts China. With this loss, India faces a tough challenge to qualify from the group.
China’s victory propelled them to the top of the group with four points, while India are yet to earn a point.
To have any hope of qualifying, India must secure a substantial win against the UAE on Tuesday and also rely on favourable results in other games.
As per the event’s format, the group winners and the four best second-placed teams overall will advance to the Finals.
Hosts Qatar have automatically qualified. The Finals are scheduled to be held from April 15 to May 3 next year.
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