Ashique Kuruniyan and Ikhsan Fandi found the net for India and Singapore respectively as the Blue Tigers and the Lions shared the spoils in their Hung Thing tournament match at the Thong Nhat Stadium on Saturday.
Starting the match on a positive note, it was Singapore which took the lead through an Ikhsan Fandi freekick in the 37th minute. Fandi took a direct shot from a Singapore freekick. Fandi caught the shot well but the heavy deflection is what disoriented India keeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu as the ball went inside the net. Sandhu got his glove to it but it wasn’t enough to keep the ball out of the net.
The Indians slowly found their foot in the game. In the 43rd minute, Jeakson Singh Thounaojam intercepted the ball in the middle of the part and passed the ball to India skipper Sunil Chhetri. Chhetri made a run towards the Singapore goal and slipped a pass to Ashique Kuruniyan from the outside of his boot. Ashique, clear on goal, made no mistake in slotting the ball home and maintained his calm despite Singapore keeper Hassan Sunny coming off his line.
The second half was mostly India’s half with the Blue Tigers dominating play but Igor Stimac’s men could not take their chances.
“There are many things that we could have done better. We missed a lot of chances, and maybe we could have defended a little better. I’m sure the coach will have a talk with us about it,” said Chhetri in a post-match interview.
“Without being too harsh on ourselves, there are a few things that we need to work on,” he added.
The humid conditions at the Thong Nhat Stadium weren’t ideal but Chhetri refused to use the weather as an excuse.
“No excuses from our end about the weather. We were here two days ago, and I must say that the weather is a little different here, but it’s quite nice. The ground was great. A lot comes down to how we played and we need to do better.”
India next plays Vietnam on Monday, September 25 at 5:30 PM IST.
“We have to really go back to the drawing board and improve ourselves against Vietnam. We have to really work hard. It is not going to be the same (as Singapore),” said Chhetri when asked about India’s opponent on Monday.