AFC Futsal Asian Cup Qualifiers: Gritty India go down to Myanmar

The Indian men's futsal team's wait for a first-ever win continued as they went down 2-5 to Myanmar in Group E of the AFC Futsal Asian Cup 2024 Qualifiers at the Dushanbe Indoor Hall in Dushanbe, Tajikistan on Monday, October 9, 2023.

The Indian men’s futsal team’s wait for a first-ever win continued as they went down 2-5 to Myanmar in Group E of the AFC Futsal Asian Cup 2024 Qualifiers at the Dushanbe Indoor Hall in Dushanbe, Tajikistan on Monday, October 9, 2023.

After also being beaten 3-6 by hosts Tajikistan on Saturday, India’s hopes of qualifying for Asia’s premier futsal competition in their first attempt are now out of their hands. Should Palestine fail to beat the hosts in the evening kick-off, India will be eliminated from the qualifiers.

Unlike the opening match, India kept more ball possession during the initial stages of the contest. However, it was Myanmar who looked more threatening going forward. India captain and goalkeeper Augustin D’mello was kept fairly busy in the first period by the Bunlert Charoenwong-coached side who had come from behind to beat Palestine 2-1 in their first match.

The opening goal arrived in rather fortunate circumstances for Myanmar. Lalsangkima, in a sliding attempt to clear the ball, knocked it into the path of Thyne Phwet Aung, who tapped into the open net.

India equalised with their first shot on target in the 11th minute. A loose ball fell on the edge of the penalty area for Roluahpuia, who didn’t think twice and sweetly struck it first time into the roof of the net. Vaz’s boys started to find their feet after the goal and almost took the lead soon. Nikhil Mali laid the ball for last match’s hat-trick hero David Laltlansanga, who slammed his right-footed effort onto the frame of the goal.

However, it was Myanmar who regained their advantage from a kick-in. Captain Myo Myint Soe picked out Myo Thet Aung, who glided the ball past D’mello. Fortune favored Myanmar yet again as they extended their lead with an own goal from Laltlansanga. A corner kick from Htut Wai Tun took a deflection off the Mizo player, wrongfooting D’mello, who was left with no chance to prevent the goal. There were no two ways about it—a case of plain bad luck for India.

Myanmar remained a constant threat from dead-ball situations throughout the match. But India, learning from their mistakes in the first half, defended better after the break. Something that remained unchanged was D’mello’s hectic life between the sticks as Myanmar’s incessant attacks kept his gloves warm.

The Southeast Asians defended compactly, but on one occasion when George MS Dawngliana had a clear sight of the target, Naing Lin Tun Kyaw threw his body on the line to thwart the goal-bound effort. India pressed deeper into Myanmar territory as the match inched towards full-time, and pulled one back two minutes from time when Laltlansanga’s powerful low strike found the bottom corner.

However, it was an anticlimactic end to the contest as India’s substitute goalkeeper Scott Moraes was shown a red card for handling the ball outside the penalty area. But despite having four players on the court, India nearly snatched the equaliser in the dying moments, with Laltlansanga’s right-footed strike coming off the bar after goalkeeper Nyi Nyi Thant pushed it over.

Myanmar then took full advantage of their extra man and punished India with two late goals on the counter-attack from Myo Thet Aung and Hlaing Min Tun.

India will play their last group match against Palestine on October 11.

India line-up: Augustin D’mello (GK, C), George MS Dawngliana, Lalsangkima, Bijoy Gusai and David Laltlansanga.

Substitutes: Sayantan Chowdhury, Scott Moraes, Sachin Patil, Jayesh Sutar, Nikhil Rajendra Mali, Abhay Gurung, Sandeep Oraw, Sandesh Nivrutti Malpote and K Roluahpuia.

Also Read: Mumbai City FC make a happy homecoming with 2-1 win over Kerala Blasters FC

Also Read: AFC Futsal Asian Cup Qualifiers: India lose to experienced Tajikistan despite David Laltlansanga hattrick

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