The purpose has been served. India are through to the second round of the 2018 World Cup Qualifiers after their away match against Nepal at Katmandu’s Dasrath Stadium ended goalless on Tuesday (March 17). India had recorded a facile 2-0 win in their home-match in Guwahati in the World Cup Qualifiers Preliminary Joint Qualification Round 1 to qualify on a 2-0 aggregate.
The intent was not to concede and it was an archetypal display of approaching an away match. Enjoying a two-goal cushion, India preferred to play safe, slow down proceedings, and at the end it paid off.

Qualification to the next round was achieved and in addition, the two clean sheets in two consecutive games, one home and another, away, came as a bonus.

As the match progressed even as Nepal dominated, they were not able to break free and that added to their frustration. They did earn a series of free-kicks in the first half and even hit the post late in the second, but the back four and the last line of defence was there to absorb almost everything.

Add to that the work rate of the midfielders and the top two who constantly pressed not allowing Nepal to settle down and have it easy, mattered.

National Coach Stephen Constantine said it was nice to leave” happy.”

“It is nice to leave with a happy result. Result always matters and we achieved what we intended.”

“We came here to win but they put us under pressure. They gave everything they had and that speaks of the character of the Nepali people,” he maintained at the Official post-match Media Interaction.

However, Constantine did make a mention of the pitch which wasn’t “up to the mark.”

“This is not an excuse but the pitch outside is not suitable for Football. You can’t play good Football on such a pitch and we were not able to play it either. The pitch on which we played in Guwahati was of very high quality,” he further stated.

“We have to accept that didn’t play our best game and we need to do better. We’re trying to build a good Team for the future and I promise that we will.”

Meanwhile, Midfielder Dhanpal Ganesh became the eighth Player to debut for Senior Indian Team in the two matches played under Stephen Constantine.

India had their chances though. The introduction of Cavin Lobo in place of Lenny Rodrigues in the 46thminute helped India to regain composure. In the 60th minute, Lalrindika Ralte’s corner was headed out for a corner and off the resultant corner, Nepal recovered fast to counter attack.

Sunil’s prowess was on display in the 68th minute. He dribbled past three in the rival box but his placement missed by a whisker with rival Goalkeeper Limbu Kiran beaten.

Robin also had a goal disallowed in the second half but it eventually it didn’t matter.

Draw of the second round will be held at AFC House in Kuala Lampur on 14th April, 2015. India’s upcoming matches in  2015:

11th & 16th June.

3rd & 8th September.

8th & 13th October.

12th & 17th November.

INDIA: Subrata Paul; Pritam Kotal, Arnab Mondal, Sandesh Jhingan, Shaumik Dey; Francis Fernandes (Jackichand Singh – 74th), Lenny Rodrigues (Cabin Lobo – 46th), Eugeneson Lyngdoh (Dhanpal Ganesh – 86th – debut for India), Lalrindika Ralte, Sunil Chhetri, Robin Singh.