India defeated Macau 2-0 in a group league encounter of the Asian Cup qualifying round taking their unbeaten run to 11. The credit for both the goals goes to substitute striker Balwant Singh. Singh had replaced the center-midfielder, Eugeneson Lyngdoh in the second half. With this started India’s dominance on the Macau side. The former Mohun Bagan striker who is known for his goal poaching trait found the target in the 57th and 82nd minutes as the ‘Sleeping Dragons’ won their third successive match in the qualifying tournament, maintaining their number one spot in the group with nine points. With three wins in three matches, India is now a strong contender to book a seat for the 2019 AFC Asian Cup.
Currently, at the 96th spot in the FIFA rankings, India was the bookies favourite against the Macau side which is ranked 183rd. However, the home team (Macau) had managed to defend their citadel in the first half. With a few words from coach Stephen Constantine during the half time saw an all new Indian side and with Balwant replacing Lyngdoh, the deadlock was broken. The first goal came in the 57th minute with cross delivered by wing-back, Narayan Das inside he box. Balwan had perfectly timed the jump and had headed the ball past Macauan goalkeeper- Ho Man Fai.
The second goal was scored in the 82nd minute. It was more of a defensive lapse as Balwant showed his poaching skills and snatching the ball from the opposition defender right outside the corner of the 18-yard box. From the corner of his eye, he saw that custodian of the Macau’s goal who was out of charge and his neat placement ensured an unassailable lead for the visiting team.
Although, India registered an impressive win the lead strikers Sunil Chhetri and Jeje Lalpheklhua did not have a great night. The only dangerous move that the Blue Tigers could execute in the first half was in the 37th minute- a deadly left-footer from Lyngdoh, which had hit the crossbar. The other chance was a neat center from Narayan in the 40th minute that Jeje couldn’t head home. The Indian left-back was a live wire as most of the moves were initiated from the particular flank.