AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers: Sunil Chettri Nets Brace as India Beat Cambodia 2-0 at Salt Lake Stadium | AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers 2023
Kolkata, Jun 8: Captain Sunil Chhetri was the star of the show on Thursday as India Beat Cambodia 2-0 in an AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers 2023, Round 3 match here at Salt Lake Stadium.Also Read – Highlights | India vs Cambodia, 2023 AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers: Sunil Chhetri Scores Brace; Blue Tigers Win 2-0
The Igor Stimac’s side were far from their best and failed to make use of their better possession against a weak side but the 37-year-old returned Chhetri from an injury layoff to score on either side of the break (13th and 59th minute). Also Read – India vs Cambodia Asia Cup 2023 Qualifiers Live Streaming: When And Where To Watch
The double strike brought him back to the third place in the list of highest scorers among active footballers in the world. With 82 goals from 127 matches, Chhetri now sits behin Portugal superstar Cristiano Ronaldo (117) and Argentine virtuoso Lionel Messi (86). Also Read – India Captain Sunil Chhetri Appeals To Fans, Asks Them To Come To Stadiums For Asian Cup Qualifiers
Following a tense start that saw their star centre-back Sandesh Jhingan earn a third minute yellow card for arguing with the referee, Chhetri settled the nerves converting a 14th minute penalty in a calm-headed way.
It was Liston Colaco who was tripped inside the box by Kok Boris of Cambodia. Chhetri took the centre stage and slammed past a diving Hul Kimhuy with his powerful strike.
But thereafter, it was a tale of missed chances for the Blue Tigers who failed to justify their 69 per cent possession to go into the break with a slender lead.
Chhetri missed a couple of headers and even was booked in the 30th minute for a rough tackle on Choun Chanchav as it was not the kind of start the Blue Tigers wanted against the lowly Angkor Warriors.
A couple of changes at the break — Sahal Abdul Samad and Udanta Singh coming in for Manvir Singh and Anirudh Thapa — made the Blue Tigers more fluidity in their attack.
Finally, it was from a superb assist by Brandon Fernandes that Chhetri completed his brace to give India a 2-0 cushion at the hour mark.
The Goan announced his return to the starting XI with a measured cross and Chhetri rose just enough to connect the free header and brought up his 82nd international goal.
The Indian captain was taken off by Stimac in the 68th minute with Ashique Kuruniyan replacing him.
For Stimac, this was his first win on home soil since his appointment as the head-coach of the Blue Tigers.
Stimac has lost thrice and drawn twice at home, conceding 13 goals earlier.
(With Inputs From PTI)