India lose to UAE in AFC U-23 Asian Cup qualifiers

Abdulla Idrees scored a penalty to help UAE to a 1-0 win over India.

By Aarish Ansari
Picture by All India Football Federation

The Indian football team lost 1-0 to UAE in their second match of the AFC U-23 Asian Cup qualifiers at the Fujairah Stadium on Wednesday.

Abdulla Idrees scored a penalty for the hosts in the 82nd minute, which was enough to give his team all three points.

India’s loss has intensified the race to the top in Group E, with all four teams having three points in two matches and a goal difference of zero.

With only the group winners and the four best second-placed teams making the AFC U-23 Asian Cup 2022, the qualifiers from Group E will be decided on the final match day.

India can still finish top of their group and qualify for the AFC U-23 Asian Cup 2022 if they win against Kyrgyzstan on October 30. However, they will also need UAE and Oman to draw their match.

If there’s a winner in the UAE vs Oman match, India will need to ensure they end up with a better goal difference than the victor. In case India finish second in Group E, their qualification to the main event will depend on results from other groups.

Indian had won their previous match against Oman but could not carry forward the momentum against UAE.

The hosts were clearly the better side in the opening 15 minutes, bossing the possession of the ball.

However, Igor Stimac’s boys, set up in a 4-4-2 formation, defended diligently to deny UAE an early lead.

As the game progressed, the Indian football team found their footing and improved their offence as well.

India came close to scoring in the 25th minute but fell short as Vikram Partap’s shot was deflected away from the goal.

On the other end of the field, the hosts could have also taken the lead if it wasn’t for Indian goalkeeper Dheeraj Singh’s first of many timely interventions. The 21-year-old custodian produced a magnificent one-on-one save to deny Rashid Salem.

Both teams had their chances but could not find the finisher as the first half ended without any goals.

In the second half, the Emiratis regained control of the possession and asked questions of the Indian defence.

The UAE missed two big chances at the hour mark. The first due to a mix up in the box and minutes later, Dheeraj Singh was there to rescue India again.

But the deadlock was finally broken by UAE in the 82nd minute.

The hosts were awarded a penalty after Suresh Singh brought down Ali Saleh inside the box. Abdulla Idrees slotted the spot kick home, which eventually proved to be the winner.

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