BENGALURU: Even as football fever sweeps the country with the U-17 World Cup in play, the nation had more reasons to celebrate as Team India qualified for the AFC Asian Cup here Wednesday.
India's 4-1 win over Macau saw Stephen Constantine’s side maintain a 100 per cent record in Group A and ensure their place in the AFC Asian Cup for only the fourth time in their history and first since 2011.
Rowllin Borges opened the scoring for the home side at Sree Kanteerava Stadium with a deflected shot only for Niki Torrao to net for Macau before half-time with the first goal conceded by India in the final round of 2019 qualifiers.
But with captain Sunil Chhetri restoring India’s lead on the hour mark, an own goal from Macau’s Lam Ka-seng and a last-minute strike from Jeje Lalpekhlua saw India claim a fourth win in as many games to secure a top-two position, after the Kyrgyz Republic and Myanmar shared a 2-2 draw on Tuesday.
The win ensured Constantine’s side will add to previous AFC Asian Cup appearances in 1964, 1984 and 2011, that too with two matches left in the qualification stage.
India's starting XI against Macau: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu (GK); Pritam Kotal, Anas Edathodika (77' - Salam Ranjan Singh), Sandesh Jhingan, Narayan Das; Jackichand Singh (45' - Balwant Singh), Rowllin Borges (65' - Md. Rafique), Eugeneson Lyngdoh, Halicharan Narzary, Sunil Chhetri (C), Jeje Lalpekhlua