In the first ten minutes of the first half, Jackichand Singh freed Robin Singh and the latter took a shot that missed the far post by a couple of feet. It was a difficult chance and a good effort from Robin. Surely he would score if he gets a better chance, one would wonder. Robin then got three clear-cut chances to score and all of them went wide of the post. India could have been 3-0 up in the first half an hour, but it was goalless.
One could see from the flow of play that Nepal were low on confidence when the game started. As India squandered chance after chance, Nepal grew increasingly assured in their attacks. Towards the end of the first half, Nepal caught India out. Gurpreet Singh Sandhu came out of his line to take the ball away but he couldn’t clear it and suddenly, the Nepalese striker Shreshta found himself facing an empty net with Indian players hovering arund him. But Shreshta missed the goal and India sighed in relief.
The second half was similar to the first with India putting Nepal under pressure but they were still unable to find the decisive goal. Finally, it was Sandesh Jinghan who gave India the lead after volleying a ball chested down by Jeje. India were ahead and minutes later, Nepalese captain Biraj Maharjan was sent off for a challenge on Jairu. It would have been a surprise had Jhinghan’s goal been the only one for India at that point and sure enough, Jeje Lalpekhlua slotted home a pass from Rafique. The result was sealed and India comfortably saw off the final few minutes.
Stephen Constantine had rested first team regulars like CK Vineeth and Sunil Chettri in order to keep them fit for their upcoming AFC Asian Cup qualifier against Kyrgyz Republic. The match will be played in Bengaluru on June 13.