Tuesday, September 8, 2015

India go down fighting to Iran, earns praise from their coach

AIFF Media 

India went down fighting 3-0 to the ‘Giants of Asia’ Iran in the Russia 2018 Preliminary Joint Qualification today night at the Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru. A 29th minute goal by the ‘Iranian Messi’, Sardar Azmoun and two early goals in the second half, within a span of five minutes earned three points for Iran.

It was a test aimed to build the Team for the future testing cohesion and chemistry. And perhaps it gave us a glimpse of the Indian National Team’s future potential. 

Ranked 115 places below Iran in the FIFA Rankings, India seldom showed signs of fear and their spirits were not deterred.

Shuffling his pack, Coach Stephen Constantine gave debut to Gurpreet Singh Sandhu to don the Blue jersey. With Jeje playing off Robin Singh upfront, and Sunil Chhetri playing just behind the two, India jotted down some quick moves around Iran’s 18 yard box.

Rowlin Borges, who introduced for an injured Dhanpal Ganesh in the 13th minute, disrupted Iranian attacks and launched his own in the 21stminute but it went abegging.

Although the Indians trailed by a goal after the 29th minute, the determination and will power was there for all to see. This determination and fighting spirit to press and win the ball eventually led India to earn a free-kick around the Iranian 18 yard box in the 33rd minute. Sunil Chhetri’s curler was although headed by Sandesh Jhingan, failed to breach the Iranian citadel.

Changing over, Iran scored two quick-fire goals early in the second half owing to defensive lapse. An Andranik Teymourian goal in the 46th minute was followed by Mehid Taremi’s in the 49th.

An electric Kanteerava Stadium was filled with chants of ‘India India’. With the Indian fans continuing to back the blue, the Indian Team started to jot down attacks. Sunil Chhetri’s shot in the 57th minute flew inches over the Iranian crossbar.

Coach Constantine introduced Jackichand Singh for Eugeneson Lyngdoh in the 62nd minute to pile up the pressure on Iran.

‘Fighting spirit’, was perhaps the Indian word of the day. And Sandesh Jhingan epitomized it perfectly in the 63rd minute. An Iranian attack was thwarted away by lanky defender, who went diving headfirst into the shot, irrespective of the fear of injury.

Six minutes later, a Sunil Chhetri flick-on found Jeje with the Iranian goalkeeper at his mercy. However, Jeje was dispossessed by a heroic tackle by the Iranian defence line, only to earn a corner kick.

With time running out the Indian contingent attacked in hordes, but failed to breach the Iranian citadel. 

Stephen Constantine’s India came in for lavish praise from his Iranian counterpart Carlos Quieroz at the Official post match Media Interaction.

“India were not sitting down and defending at all. The played aggressive Football and they were pressurizing us and that left some of my Players surprised and confused. They were creating problems for us in the middle of the park. They were aggressive,” he maintained.

“They (India) were really close to scoring in the first half. Sunil (Chhetri) was initiating a lot of attacks for them,” the former Real Madrid Manager added.

“After having Turkmenistan and Guam, I can say India deserve to be ranked much higher. They were never defensive,” he stated.

Meanwhile, Head Coach of the Indian National Team Stephen Constantine stressed on the importance of matches against the very best in the business. Speaking in the official post match press conference, Constantine said, “You need to play games against the very best in the World.”

“These boys did not play a competitive game for 3 months and they performed like that today. It was evident that we do have potential, we just need some time and matches,” he echoed.

Saluting the attitude of the Indian contingent, Constantine expressed: “We worked very hard and we gave them a very tough match. And it would be fair to say that we made the match difficult for them. I am more than pleased with the fighting spirit and the never-say-die attitude showcased today by the Indian Team”

“We have made a beginning today and I want us to perform at consistent level from now on. The Players showcased superb attitude and work-rate.”